Prayer is a vital aspect of the Christian's relationship with God. I'm confident most folks - including myself - need to spend more time in deep, earnest conversation with the Lord.
Prayer's importance can't be over emphasized, as suggested by Paul's encouragement that we pray "without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus gave us the parable of a persistent widow because we "ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).
Prayer isn't some mysterious activity that is impossible to understand or succeed in. It is nothing more than earnestly sharing our hearts and minds with our Master.
That said, one thing we must be aware of regarding prayer is that there are some things that will impede prayer for Christians. This thought is taken from Peter's warning to Christian men regarding their treatment of their wives, so that their prayers are not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
As much as we want our prayers to be effective, we must understand there are some other things that will make prayer less effective, even to the point of defeating it. To remind you of an old saying, we all want our prayers to get higher than the ceiling. But consider that prayer can be hindered by, among others, these things:
Unbelief. We must approach God with faith if we expect to receive from him: "Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith" (Matthew 21:22). Prefacing our requests with the attitude that God probably won't answer them positively defeats us before we start.
Impenitence. The person who refuses to seek the righteousness of God has no basis for hope that God will honor his prayer.
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).
Insincerity. Genuine spirituality is absolutely essential to effective prayer. Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1).
Self-righteousness. The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector is a witness against those who trust in their own righteousness (Luke 18:9-17). The haughty spirit of the Pharisee denied him the privilege of going home justified by God.
There are other attitudes and actions that will make our prayers ineffective and our entire relationship with the Lord unproductive. What we need to do is to overcome these. Let us spare no effort in doing so.