Proverbs 15:29 NIV
“The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
As a pastor, I hear countlessly, “Why doesn’t God hear my prayers?” The question is usually asked during some time of personal crises that a person has been struggling with for a period of time.
First, we may not be praying at all. I read in a college course book, in a behavioral psychology class, students conduct an experiment with a rat that is given cocaine every time it pushed down a little bar. Within a day or two that little rat was beating down on that little bar like crazy until it forgot all about eating, drinking or raising his little rat family.
God in his wisdom knows that if prayer were just asking him for what we want and “voila;”, we immediately get it, most of us in our sinful imperfection would become like our poor little rat friend, banging away like crazy at heavens gate for more and more of what we want with little attention to who God is. Can you imagine what our world would look like if anything anybody asked for was immediately granted! You talk about chaos!
God’s purpose in prayer is for us to get to know who he is and his holiness rather than to get Him to do our bidding. That does not mean that he will not hear and answer, but his purpose is not to make us happy, but to make himself known that he is God!
Jesus, when asked by his disciples how to pray offers the model of prayer, we know it as the Lords prayer. He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” (Luke 11:2-4 NIV)
Now the prayer begins with the relationship, our father. Do you know God as your father when you pray? Are you looking towards God, or are you looking at your problems when you pray? Is he really your father? I know of very few fathers who will listen and care for other people’s children. Next, Jesus leads us to pray hollowed be “your father’s name” That word, “hallowed” means most special, always right, and different from anything else. Is he most special to you? I have three beautiful daughters, and when they come to me and say, “Daddy, you’re really special and I love you,” they will hug me and give me a kiss; they could ask me for the moon, and if it was mine to give I would give it.
Establishing the relationship first is the beginning of prayer! I go back to our poor rat friend. Are you frantically beating on that bar in your cage for what you crave or are you like my little daughters who love their daddy and tell him so? Are your really praying? Or are you just frantically giving orders to God? Believe me brothers and sisters, it makes a difference!
If we return to the prayer model Jesus gave us, we find next we have to be willing to put our father’s will first in our life, just like those in heaven. Are we willing to keep our part of the relationship and let him be our Lord and determine what we need and want? I hear it all the time from people, “Preacher, please pray for my such and such situation and I promise to come to church regular.” Well, you know what happens most of the time? When by God’s grace and mercy their prayer is answered, they disappear until the next crisis! Sooner or later that type of “hit and run” prayer life will come to an end and they will cry, “Why doesn’t God seem to answer my prayers?” My answer is because maybe you’re not really praying like Jesus says to pray.
Right after Jesus told his disciples how to pray, he compared true prayer to a traveler who comes to a friend’s house to stay in the middle of the night. The friend says, “No, the family is in bed and the place is locked.” Jesus says the friend will finally answer the door and let him in, not because he is a friend to the traveler, but because the traveler keeps knocking! In other words, Keep praying every day! “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Finally, when someone says, “Why doesn’t God seem to answer my prayers? I will ask, “Are you a righteous person?” The Bible says, in Proverbs 15:29 NIV, “The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” So I ask again, Are you a “righteous person?”
When I go out to evangelize, I sometimes run across couples having financial problems and they usually ask me to pray for them. More often than not, many of these men and women are living together unmarried, and some have children. When I tell them they are living in sin and should get married, the men’s eyes get as big as plums, and the women look down to the floor. The words of the Lord is, He will not bless you in your state of sinfulness.
“The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” The good news is that if you become righteous, you will become the right, that is, righteous person to pray and God will hear you. That’s the good news.
The bad news, however, in the words of the Great Apostle Paul in Romans 3:10 NIV is, “There is no one righteous, not even one…!” Now some will say, “Pastor, then God will never listen to any of our prayers. That doesn’t seem right!” Well, with the bad news of sin comes the Great Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to the question,. “Why doesn’t God seem to answer my prayers?” may be that you are unrighteous without the blood of Jesus Christ covering your sinful selfishness and the work of the Holy Spirit in you to make you like him.
We return now to the end of the Lord’s prayer, “…Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from [evil] the evil one.”
The Bible says in (1 John 1:6-9 NIV), “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
It is only through our salvation in Jesus Christ that we become righteous before our special father, God, and our prayers are heard. Not only are our prayers heard, but God, our special father, will send his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to intercede for us.
The Bible says, (Romans 8:26-27 NIV) “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (27) And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
Do you really know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Pray the Lord’s prayer in earnest. Seek to know God as your special holy Father. Pray without ceasing. Confess your sin; turn to Jesus Christ for your strength. If you can commit your life to such prayer, I will guarantee that God will begin to hear and to satisfy your prayers; and you will know true joy and happiness.
Scripture of the day: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. ~ Philippians 4:6 NIV
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
Copyright Reserved, 2012.
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