A Question On Prayer

(Luke) #1

I’m sure a similar question has been asked, but my question is over the following verses:

“He who turns away from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.”
Proverbs 28:9 (NASB)
“We know that God does not hear sinners;
but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will,
He hears him.”
John 9:31 (NASB)
“But your iniquities have made a
separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden
His face from you so that He does not hear.”
Isaiah 59:2 (NASB)

For those, like myself, who fall to temptation and have sinned, how do we make it so our prayers can be heard by God? Is it simply by asking for forgiveness and repenting from our sins? Wouldn’t that in itself be a prayer unable to be heard by God?

(SeanO) #2

Luke, that is a good question. One not on John 9 - that is not Jesus speaking, it is the man that was healed. Therefore we should not treat those words as necessarily reflecting exactly correct theology. God always forgives our sins when we come to Him - He is faithful and just to do so.

I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

But are there conditions? I would say that there are two in Scripture:

1 - A humble heart
2 - Treat other people as you would want to be treated - treat others with justice and righteousness

God Hears the Humble

Ahab was one of the most wicked rulers Israel had - and yet when he humbled himself before God his prayer was heard.

James 4:6 - God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble

Psalms 138:6 - Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.

I Kings 21:25-29 - (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.

Right Relationship with Others

All throughout the Bible we see that God responds to those who treat others with compassion and justice. I highly suggest reading all of Isaiah 58 - God was not listening to the Israelites and despised their sacrifices because they were mistreating others. However, God told them that true fasting is to care for those in need. Powerful!

Matthew 5:23-24 - Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

I Peter 3:7 - Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Isaiah 58:6-10 - “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

(Kathleen) #3

Hi, guys! Such a great question, @1Corinthians10-13, and I love that @SeanO has given us a good start on things.

A couple of thoughts…

  1. We can look at these verses, but we need to look at them alongside all the other places where God declares that He has heard ‘the cry’ of His people and promises to hear His people when they cry to (or turn again to) Him when they go astray. I know there are numerous times in the OT when God tells Israel that they will turn away from him, but if they turn again to Him, He will hear them and rescue them. (I know is a theme of Deuteronomy, esp.) In fact, that’s pretty much the cycle of the OT. (Israel prospers > Israel forgets God > Israel sins grievously against God > God judges Israel (usually through exile or being conquered) > Israel cries out to God > God hears them and restores them… repeat cycle).

  2. So, yes, if our sins (which are ever before us) always worked to make God deaf to our cries, then, you are correct, God would never hear our prayers for forgiveness. But, in some respects, He does, so, in my mind, it must be about either the kind of cry that is uttered or, better yet, the heart from which it is uttered. That’s where Sean’s thoughts on humility come in. God knows the hearts from which prayers are uttered, and a heart that repeatedly ‘turns away from listening to the law’ is a heart that, in a way, does not wish to listen to God/have anything to do with Him. Makes sense that a prayer from that type of heart would be an abomination to Him. But a heart that truly turns to Him for forgiveness is one that wants to be back in right relationship with Him, and I believe that God will honour those prayers.

  3. I’m also curious what it is that God is not hearing. What can one, who’s heart is set on ‘iniquity’ or set against His Law, pray for exactly? What do these types of people want from God? What would they pray to him about? Is this a warning for the religious types, who claim to know the Law of God, but who do not truly follow it?

I think I’ll go away and examine my own heart after these reflections! :thinking:

(Luke) #4

thanks for the awesome replies @SeanO & @KMac
will definitely take into account all that was said next time I am in prayer

(Sandy) #5

“But to the one who does not work (that is, the one who does not try to earn his salvation by doing good), but believes and completely trusts in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God)”. Rom 4:5 AMP

To such a one, righteousness is a gift. 2 Cor 5:21. Luke, your new identity is “righteous in Christ”! “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” Eph 2:8 KJV
And because we have such a Great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us Heb 4, 7, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb 4:16 KJV

“For a just (righteous) man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”

@1Corinthians10-13 If that is you, you are no more an orphan…but a son! You have a Good, Good Father who is rooting for you. Jer 29:11 His plans for you are good! Draw near, tell him all about your struggles…and grow in Grace! (btw, all have sinned)
Grace is the answer Rom 6:14…we go from glory to glory, from grace to grace! Hallelujah! :):):slight_smile: