[This post is an excerpt from How I Know God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth, first published in 1921. Jonathan & Rosalind Goforth spent the greatest part of their lives as missionaries in China.]
1. Sin in the heart and life
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me (Psalm 66:18).
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear (Isaiah59:1,2).
2. Persistent refusal to obey God
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me” (Proverbs 1:24-28).
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of Hosts (Zechariah 7:11, 13).
3. Formalism and hypocrisy
Hear, O Heavens, and give ear, O Earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the LORD of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. Hear the Word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the Law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:2-15).
4. Unwillingness to forgive others
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25, 26).
5. Wrong motives
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:2, 3).
6. Despising God’s law
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the Law of the LORD, and have not kept His Commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked” (Amos 2:4).
7. Lack of love and mercy
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard (Proverbs 21:13).