Read: Proverbs 28:15
God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him. (Message)
I am partly disturbed, partly humored by the growing number of people in our culture who don’t seem to think God has any moral standards to which he holds human beings accountable. And there are even more than a few Christians who now think that way, too!
We seem to want a God created in our image—a God of grace but not justice; a God of love but not righteousness; a God who takes everyone to heaven but sends no one to hell; a God who gives us everything we want but never expects anything of us. That sounds more like a kindly old grandfather in the sky than the God who has revealed himself through the Bible. In reality, a God who makes no moral demands and holds no one to account is a capricious and unloving being—and that is not the kind of God I want to serve.
Yes, God is loving, gracious, kind, forgiving, patient, generous and infinitely fair, but he also expects us to hold up our end of the bargain. Now to be sure, our end of the bargain is minuscule compared to the infinite weight of grace on his end, but still, he has some expectations of us: Not a track record of perfection, mind you, but the offering of a lovingly obedient heart. Card carrying members of the family of God have but one requirement, which Jesus summed up in John 14:15,
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Of course, we will never perfectly live up to our end of the deal, but with his ever-present help, he expects us to give it our best shot. And when we fail, he has provided forgiveness through his Son, Jesus (you may want to review I John 1:9 on that one). Again, it is not about perfection, but obedience; it is not about earning, but effort.
So if we think and act like this is a one-sided deal, we have another thing coming. And one of the things we’ll find is that, contrary to all the Christian clichés, God will not answer our prayers. If we’re not going to listen to him, why should he listen to us? Actually, there are a fair amount of verses in the Bible that specifically point this out:
If we aren’t forgiving of others, God won’t receive our prayers. (Matthew 5:24, 6:14)
If we aren’t loving with our spouse, God won’t entertain our prayers. (I Peter 3:7)
If we aren’t compassionate toward the poor, God won’t hear our prayers. (Proverbs 21:13)
If we aren’t faithful in our giving, God won’t answer our prayers. (Malachi 3:8-9)
And the list goes on and on as to how God responds to those who don’t respond to his word—and it’s pretty scary. On the other hand, there are many wonderful promises for those who give effort in holding up their end of the bargain, and believe me, when we do, the weight of Divine grace shifts to our side in ways that our eternal gratitude will never be able to repay.
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
~II Chronicles 16:9
Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:
Although we are saved by God’s grace and not by our righteous works, and therefore can never earn our salvation, we can, and must give effort to work out our salvation (read Philippians 2:12-13). Write down an area in your life where you need to give greater effort in order to be more lovingly obedient to Christ’s commands—then ask him for help. Those are the kinds of prayers he will hear—and answer!