I am watching more than one Christian sinning — a lot — and they are wondering why they feel like their prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.
Let me clarify that I am not certain about what I am seeing, but I am not observing any confessions, apologies or observable life change. Therefore, it’s a possibility that they are accommodating unresolved sin in their lives and there is a possibility that their relationship with God is being affected.
I have been pondering this matter all week long.
As a parent, I love my kids so much I would die for each of them.
God also loves us so much He would die for us. He has proven that already, hasn’t He?
But how my children live their lives affects my relationship with them.
How they live their lives determines how much of me they get to enjoy.
Suppose I have a child…
who is trustworthy, works hard, walks with God and strives to honor Him in all he or she does.
That child will have more freedoms and experience less of my discipline and instruction. The two of us will experience a large number of conversations that consist of nothing more than us enjoying one another, plain and simple. I will also have an incredible desire to bless them and look for opportunities to do so.
Suppose I have a child…
who is addicted to drugs.
That child will not get much of my money (if any) and will probably not live in my home. He or she will receive a more calculated love from me as I am careful not to enable and attempt to get my child to face his or her issues. Sadly, I will spend more time seeking help for them than enjoying them.
In that circumstance, all the people in my life would understand why my expression of love toward my child would be hindered.
You get the idea. Relationships very must depend on the participation of two parties.
Christians have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the same principle being discussed applies to our relationship with God.
How we live our lives affects our relationship with Him.
How we live our lives determines how much of God we get to enjoy.
Yes, God loves us, but He is also holy (sinless).
We forget that second part sometimes.
God cannot have a relationship with sin just like I can’t have a fun, carefree relationship with a child in the throes of addition — even though I love him or her the same as all of my children.
There are some sobering verses in the Bible regarding this issue. One that I wrote about in Live ABOVE the Chaos is Psalm 66:18:
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. An explanation of this verse in the Treasury of David Commentary is chilling to me: If, having seen it to be there, I continue to gaze upon it without aversion; if I cherish, I have a side glance of love toward it, excuse it, and palliate it; the Lord will not hear me. (p. 168)
I have certainly seen sin in my heart without being upset.
I have also excused it and have even given it a side glance of love. When I do these things, my relationship with God is affected since I am holding onto something other than Him. (p. 168)
Yes, God loves me but because He is holy my relationship with Him is hindered when I am blocking His ability to fill pieces of my heart.
However, when I am filled up with the Holy Spirit (HOLY Spirit) then God can stay as close to me as He desires. Of course I disobey sometimes, but when I do people should see me making amends quickly with those I harmed because I have made amends with God already.
Regarding God not listening to every prayer, there is a verse for husbands that makes me shudder as well. I Peter 3:7 says, Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
I have watched some husbands mistreat their wives and thought to myself, Um, don’t do any praying in the next few minutes, sir, until you deal with that behavior with both God and your wife!
There are other verses you may be interested in looking up that can hinder God’s ability to listen to your prayers. The additional verses below are included in Francis Chan’s talk, Why God Doesn’t Listen: James 4:3: You ask wrongly to spend it on your passions; James 1:6-7: You ask with doubt; Isaiah 58:5-6, 9-10: Unless you are caring for people in need, God does not listen; 1 Corinthians 5:1-6, 9-13: Accommodating sin in people who call themselves Christians within the church hinders the prayers of Christian community as a whole (OUR Father, who art in heaven).
If your prayers feel like they are bouncing off the ceiling and God feels far away, it does NOT necessarily mean you are accommodating sin in your heart and life. We must be careful not to judge a person’s heart because only God knows a person’s heart.
However, when God feels far away this principle of checking the condition of our heart is the first place to go, not the last.
Ask Him to show you if He has all of your life. If He shows you places where He is not in charge, confess things quickly and turn away. Then, if the feeling of distance continues, you know you have dealt with your heart and the rest is in God’s hands. Sometimes God takes us through tough seasons and the problem is not our heart. Instead, God sometimes allows suffering in order to grow our faith and increase our ability to reflect Christ to the world…
and bring us back into intimate relationship with Himself so we get all of Him and enjoy Him!
The family featured in this post attended a soccer game with us.They are our friends, and they are beautiful.
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