There is something we need to address in parts. Something that is difficult to hear, difficult to receive and against the spirit of our age. Against the pop theology so prevalent in the modern church, but it effects our fellowship with the living God and our day to day lives.
We pray and we feel like God doesn’t hear us. Prayer can be a source of doubt. The outrageous promises of Jesus in Prayer receive indignant uncertainty from most of us – mystified frustration from the rest.“If we ask anything in Jesus’ name, he will do it?!” John 14:14.
Furthermore, the obsession with free grace and God’s unconditional love, make praying to God a kind of talisman or good luck charm, like knocking on wood or rubbing a rabbits foot. No matter the condition of my heart or my utter lack of concern for God’s law, God is concerned with me in this request. I don’t listen to his word or his ministers but he sure will listen to me, right?
But there are times when God does not listen to prayer. When he turns his ears away. When he commands his children not to intercede in prayer and even times when He does not heed the prayers of his saints. We want a God who requires nothing of us, yet offers everything to us.
Your marriage, lacking in self-control and indwelling sin all have an affect on God hearing our prayers. If you are hard hearted and unrepentant in these areas, then God is uninterested in hearing from you about anything else.
Now – I know how harsh that may sound and reveals more than our self-centered and faulty doctrines on prayer, but we have to address why God isn’t hearing our prayers. Jesus will give us anything in His name if we ask according to his will, it says in 1 john 5:14.
Knowing God’s will in prayer seems to be crucial to prayer having any affect. God hearing our prayer is conditional. I repeat, Prayer is conditional. What are the conditions to God hearing our prayer?
First, we will consider is the necessity of a relationship with Jesus. We read in John 9:31 “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.”
Jesus says in John 17:9 “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” How often have you heard an unbeliever in a discussion of religion say that they don’t believe in Jesus or go to church but they pray – everyday. As if Prayer were the bedrock religious practice. The fundamental element of a relationship with God. But God does not hear the prayers of unbelievers. God does not hear the prayers of sinners. Jesus intercedes on behalf of his children not the children of Satan.
In order to demonstrate that God is as gracious as he really is, pop-theology tells lies about God. God does not hear everyone who prays. He hears the prayers of his children. Jesus intercedes on behalf of his flock, not the flock of Buddha or Mohammad. Why? Prayer is an act that brings us before the face of God. Into his very presence.
And we know that the unclean, those clothed in unrighteousness are defiled. They cannot enter, let alone stand, in the presence of God. If you can’t be in the same room as God, then you can’t speak to Him. God’s omnipresence isn’t the same has God’s relational presence. The connection between sin and prayer is well documented.
“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry,” Psalm 34:15. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, “ Psalm 66:18. “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them,” Psalm 145:19.
An unbeliever cannot draw near to God in prayer because God has not drawn near to them. That is the first condition to meaningful prayer. Relationship with Jesus. This is humbling to us. Prayer- talking with he living God – isn’t for everyone. It is for those saved by grace, clothed in Christ’s righteousness. It is for those washed with regeneration, baptized into the body of God.
This should humble us. The living God doesn’t listen to just anyone. He listens to you, in Christ. As Chesterton said; “there is not lack of wonders in this world, just a lack of wonder.”
You stand in the presence of God because of Jesus. You converse with the Father because of Jesus. Jesus intercedes on your behalf. Jesus heeds your words, if you have a relationship with Him.
And we take this relationship for granted. We treat God like an ATM. We act as if prayer is nothing special. As if talking to God were a chore. Or give Prayer no heed. We act as if anyone can do it. But only those Christ died for can talk to him and expect to be heard. Those who sins are known, cleansed, forgiven. This isn’t a universal. It’s a privilege isn’t it?