Are You There, God? Day 2- My Sin
We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31, ESV)
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, ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16, ESV)
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, ESV)
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3, ESV)
Perhaps our biggest hindrance in prayer falls upon our own sinfulness. It’s sobering to read through Scripture and find that God does not listen to the prayers of those still in their sins (unless it’s a prayer of repentance and a plea for salvation). Prayer is a privilege reserved for God’s children—an open door of communication only possible through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. Old Testament saints had to pray through a priest, but when Jesus came He put away the need for a priest and became our Mediator, opening the door for us to go straight to God. What an amazing gift this is—and yet our own sinfulness often stands in the way of His answering.
The first question to ask as you approach prayer is this: Am I a child of God? Have I accepted Christ as my Savior, and am I a living testimony of His grace and mercy? As we read in the Scripture passages at the opening of our devotion, this is a crucial component to prayer. If you are a redeemed child of God, then praying to God is possible for you. The next question to ask yourself is this: Is there unconfessed sin in my life that is standing between God and myself? This is the big one for me.
One very big disservice that’s been done by our modern-day culture is in the casual approach to sin. And yet even as I write this, I can hear the whispered words of Satan to Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b, ESV). God had made it absolutely clear that the tree from which they ate was not permitted for them to eat. Even today, I hear similar whispers from Satan causing me to doubt what God has clearly spoken in His Word, often leading me to sin. They may sound like some of these:
“Is it really wrong to have sex before marriage if you love them and plan to marry them anyway?”
“Does it matter if you use your expense account for personal expenditures since the company underpays you anyhow?”
“Love is love, no matter what way we feel like expressing it. After all, doesn’t God love all of us and want us to be happy?”
“Strike back in anger at the injustice of the words that were just spoken to you—you deserve revenge.”
These are only a few examples of what Satan may whisper in our ears, leading us into sin and closing off the open communication we once had with our heavenly Father. These may be some bigger areas of personal struggle, but all sin that isn’t acknowledged, repented of, and made right with Jesus stands in the way of effective prayer. When I take time to think of my own words and actions, I can see how easily I coast in my relationship with the Lord and allow sin to gradually cause distance between us.
If we want to be heard, we need to air out the junk that stands in the way. Little disagreements with others, dishonesty, jealousy, perverse thoughts, profanity and rude talk, sexual sin, gossip, road rage, pride, and prejudice are some examples of sins we are regularly guilty of. I know for me, some of those escape so quickly and naturally that I forget about them and never really come to the point of confession. Over time, they cause a real breach between myself and God. We are reminded from Scripture that God hears the prayers of the righteous. Am I righteous, or am I in need of repentance and confession? May we give thought today to the state of our hearts before God and be willing to acknowledge any sin that stands between us, separating us from His moving on our behalf. “Wash me, Lord and make me clean”—only then should I approach His throne with boldness.