Why doesn’t God hear my prayers?
Why doesn’t God hear my Prayers?
Just putting it out there, God does hear all prayer, he is on top of everything! The question is more like, why doesn’t God answer our prayer? One of the reasons that God doesn’t answer our prayer has to do with sin. Isaiah 1:15 says,
‘When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.’ (aka sin)
Then in James 4:3 he says, ‘You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.’ (aka sin)
Sin is like a body odour that creeps in without our knowing it. Funnily enough everyone else is aware of our body odour, the waft of smell is undeniable. Ever been trapped in an elevator in rush hour? You hear me sister!
Sin is not an isolated incident, it generally causes a ripple effect. Just like one bus accident can create a traffic jam to the detriment of many people, so is sin.
But God tells us that everyone sins! And after being around children constantly, it’s quite obvious we do not need to teach children to be selfish, ungrateful and aggressive. We do however need to teach children to be good, kind and to share.
When left to our own devices and we don’t acknowledge God, God abandons us to our foolish thinking and we become wicked: Let’s take a look at the sin list from Romans 1:28
- Hate God
- Disobedient to parents
- Break their promises
- Show no mercy
Wow, we wouldn’t have to go far from our lunchroom, or the café to find these behaviours! As opposed to our Australian laws, which are far more lenient: murder is the only one on that list which would definitely require a prison sentence.
Sin: How we hide it
So what happened, why are we born with a propensity to sin? Here it is in
Genesis 3:1-21 (I’ve turned it into a drama scene)
The Cover Up
Narrator: The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman
Serpent: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
Woman: 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
Serpent: 4 “You won’t die!” 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
Narrator: 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.9 Then the Lord God called to the man
God: “Where are you?”
Man: 10 “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
God (talking to Man) : 11 “Who told you that you were naked?” “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
Man:“ 12It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
God: (talking to Woman): “What have you done?”
Woman: “The serpent deceived me,” “That’s why I ate it.”
(skipping verses 13-19)
Narrator:20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
Lessons learnt from Genesis 3
- We feel ashamed when we sin, and it’s always going to be feeble attempt for us to cover it up. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves—I’m not sure how successful that would have been. No matter how good our cover up is, it’s never going to fool God. King David committed adultery and murder, and thought he got away with it too. But God graciously sends the prophet Nathan to expose his lie in order for David to repent.
- They tried to hide. So if you can’t cover your tracks, then try to avoid meeting your maker. Yeah Jonah tried to run away from God too, but that only got him into the belly of a great big fish.
- God asks where the Man is, Like God didn’t know where he was! This was for man’s benefit, so he could confess, “Confession is good for the soul”.
- When Man responds, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” There is four ‘I’ statements in this sentence, seems like it’s all about Adam here. Hang on, is that Adam saying that it’s God’s fault because he’s scared?
- Man replies to God, “ 12It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”Oh so it was God’s fault, he gave the woman to Adam! Shame now turns to Blame.
- Ultimately, God questions the culprits, not to gather information, he already knows what’s happened. He does it for their benefit, so they can be humbled and have a chance to repent.
- Eve also blames another. It’s easier to off load than to bear the burden of sin.
I’ve heard it said, ‘Sin is a brat that nobody is willing to own’.
God in his mercy clothes Adam and Eve with a covering that would require the death of an innocent animal. This was the precursor to Jesus who was innocent and yet paid the price for our sins.
Sin: How to fight it
We need to fight sin because persistent, unrepentant sin can disqualify us from the kingdom of God. Paul says to the Galatians,
‘Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God’. Galatians 5:19-21
If we call Jesus our Lord, and have God as our Father, then we are living in Christ and we are new creation (2 Cor. 5:16; Gal. 6:15) As new creations we should live transformed (although not perfect) lives. We have received God’s grace and are compelled to follow Jesus in all of life. As disciples, we fight sin because we love our Saviour. Unless we get born of the spirit it’s really hard to fight sin. We need the spirit because it’s like a new operating system, and overrides our old fleshy nature!
Some Ideas to fight sin:
- Help from our fellow brothers and sisters. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”.
- Prayer, in Luke 22:40 ‘On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”’
- Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help and power in all these things. Romans 8:13 says, ‘For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.’
- Be self-disciplined. Fight your sinful impulses with all your might as a boxer fights an opponent and as a marathon runner fights fatigue. 1 Corinthians 9:27 says, ‘But I discipline my body and keep it under control,lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. Fasting is also a great way to gain control over your flesh. Jesus said when you fast, not if you fast!!
- Regularly reading your bible. Develop mental habits that continually renew our mind. Romans 12:2 says, ‘ 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’
Sin: How we right it
If offense is continually on your conscience then that may be God asking you to sort it out.
If we are the offender: Jesus said, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift”. Matthew 5:23-24
This is really important to Jesus, even more than worshipping, that is quite astounding!
If we are the offended: Jesus says, 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. Matthew 18:15-17
I think that the more we humbly admit our sins to each other, the less we need to! Because eating humble pie, whilst is good for you, doesn’t taste very nice 😉 And we’ll think twice before committing sin, then our community will have more peace, a place that is safe for people to find Jesus.
Back at Genesis 3, it was an innocent animal which paid the price of covering Adam and Eve’s sin. God killed the animal and used his skin to cover their nakedness, and so covering their sin. Adam and Eve could never repay this animal his life. The cost was too much! But they could try to live a life that was worthy of that sacrifice.
Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It was through his death that he paid for us, and covered our sins. That any who call upon his name, and repent from their sins, ask for him for forgiveness- God then includes them into his family.
We can NEVER repay that debt we owe Jesus and God! No good works will earn it, that’s like saying we can pay God back! As if! BUT, we can try to honour his name by either fighting sin, or fighting the temptation to sin. And the best thing about this is that God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us in this battle. We are not alone. We are never alone when we are alone with God.
‘It’s not until Jesus is all we’ve got, that we realise Jesus is all we need.’ Brad Carter