Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 119

Hindered Prayer continued...

Not only is disobedience detrimental to the person practicing it, it is likewise detrimental to all those around him. Disobedience is not a victimless crime. It is not something that affects only the individual in question.

Because one man disobeyed the command of God, and touched the unclean things, and took for himself that which was supposed to be destroyed, God stopped giving victory to the entire nation of Israel. Achan’s eyes saw, his heart desired, and he took that which God commanded His people not to touch, thinking he wasn’t harming anyone by his disobedience. Little did Achan know that the people of God would no longer glory in victory on the battlefield until his sin was exposed and he was thoroughly punished for his disobedience.

God would not even listen to Joshua’s prayers, until the sin was removed from the camp, and until the disobedience was dealt with. Yes, God had chosen Joshua. Yes, God had equipped Joshua. Yes, God loved Joshua, but this did not mean that Joshua got to sidestep, circumvent, or ignore God’s order, even inadvertently.

God holds those He loves, chooses, and equips to as high a standard as anyone else. Having been chosen for a duty, having been equipped for a task, does not mitigate our responsibilities in the sight of God, nor does it allow us to approach God frivolously and without reverence.

Another hindrance and obstacle in our prayer life are the sins of the heart. Such sins are extremely dangerous in the life of a believer, because they are invisible to the naked eye, and only you and God know they are there.

We keep away from the visible sins, what we consider the big sins, but many of us allow sins of the heart to fester unchallenged and unopposed. Another term the word of God uses for the sins of the heart is the iniquity of the heart.

Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Once again, we have a short, seemingly innocuous verse, which packs a punch. If I know that there is iniquity in my heart, if I behold it, and see it, and do not repent of it and pluck it from the soil, then the Lord will not hear me.

If I know that there is something in my heart that is not in accordance with the word of God. If I know I am holding onto bitterness, malice, jealousy, envy, hatred, or any of a hundred different iniquities of the heart, then the Lord will not hear me. No matter how much I cry out, no matter how many tears I might shed, if I do not repent of the iniquity of my heart when I regard it, or see it there, if I do not turn away from it, then the Lord will not hear.

No one knows what you’re thinking, no one knows what’s in your heart, but God does! God knows when our thoughts are impure; He knows when our hearts are given to some form of iniquity or another. We might be able to hide the iniquity of our hearts from men, but never from God, and as a warning siren that something must be repented of, that something must be done away with, that something must be turned away from, God stops hearing us, and as consequence He stops answering our prayers.

Proverbs 3:29-30, “Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake. Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.”

Although some of us might be quick to say these verses could never apply to us, if we are honest with ourselves, we will soon realize that they are more applicable to our daily lives than we would like to admit.

When the person two cars up is going ten miles below the speed limit, and we start to get flustered, honking and swerving and clutching our steering wheel, we are striving against someone without cause, because they have done us no harm.

Perhaps the unintended consequence of their speed was our irritation being fueled, but as far as directly doing us harm, that individual is likely not even aware of our existence, never mind intent on harming us in any way.

That was just one example, but if we pick a given day and think thorough it objectively, we come to realize that there are many instances for which we must repent, because we have strived when there was no cause to strive, and devised evil when there was no cause to do so.

Zechariah 7:10, “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”

Evil thoughts, and evil plans against our brothers and sisters in Christ, impede our prayers, hinder our prayers, and keep God from hearing them.

So the next time thoughts spring up in your heart, whether concerning the pastor’s sermon being too long, or the special music not being very special, remember the consequences of allowing such thoughts to take root in your heart.

Because the heart is deceitful above all things, there is a natural inclination towards iniquity almost hardwired into its makeup. It is far easier for an individual to surrender to iniquity, than to walk in holiness. We’re always striving to do what’s right, but doing what’s wrong or unbecoming seems to come quite easily. Ever since the fall of Adam, man’s predisposition has been toward evil rather than good, but as gatekeepers of our hearts, as those who can choose what we allow to pass through the gates and make our hearts home, we can chase away the iniquity that comes knocking incessantly and repeatedly.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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