Could Our Sins be the Reason?
So the question before us is, “Why does God say “NO” to most of my prayers?”
First let me say, there are times when God may say “NO” to my prayers, when he would rather say, “yes” because of sin in my life.
Listen to the litany of passages from the Old Testament.
Psalm 66:18. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me.”
Isaiah 59:2. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God so he will not hear you.”
Micah 3:4. “Then they will cry but God will not answer them. He will hide his face from them because of their evil deeds.”
The New Testament does not change that theme:
James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all persons generously, and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But, let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double minded person, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.”
James 4:2-3 “You do not have because you do not ask, you ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your desires.”
- If I do not want his will, (Prov. 1:28-29, 28:9, Zech. 7:13)
- If I lack compassion, (Prov. 21:13)
- If my faith is unstable, (James 1:5-7)
- If I act selfishly, (James 4:3-3)
- If I cause hurt in the lives of others, (I Peter 3:7)
God will not respond to my needs. Or, If I refuse to forgive, God will refuse to forgive me when I ask.
Sin is a serious reason for some of our prayers not being answered. But I suspect that you know this reason to be true already. You do not need me to reinforce what you already know.
But we need to be very careful here. It is too simplistic to presume that sin is the only or prime reason. Most of us are overly introspective and overly aware of our many shortcomings, so that it easy for us to feel guilty and presume sin where there has been none.
Let us not presume that sin or lack of faith is the only or even the primary reason for prayers receiving a “NO” answer.
I have been in too many hospital rooms visiting patients. In some of those rooms I have encountered serious problems, problems not caused by the illness or the accident, or by the flawed practice of doctors or nurses, but caused by well-meaning Christian people. I have been preceded by some well-intentioned Christian who has been suggesting to the patient that if they only had more faith, God would heal them. The suggestion is left, though not always clearly stated, that God is displeased with the person because of sin, or lack of faith. They have been Job’s comforters who leave the patient in far worse condition than when they found him.
On top of injury they have added insult. On top of grief they have poured out guilt feelings. They have left behind the presumption that the patient is not only sick, but sinful, and the hurting person is made to hurt more.
We are living in a day where this kind of theology abounds. It comes under the headings of Success theology, Prosperity theology, and all the theologies of Power where faith and physical well-being are too closely tied to each other, so that if a person is living through tough circumstances and God does not get them out, and get them out quickly, it is too easy to presume a weak faith, a faulty theology or sin in the life.
There ARE other reasons why God may say “NO” than sin.
We have been saying that to many of our prayers God says NO! And it is possible that he says “NO” because of our disobedience and sin. But there may be another reason why God would say “no” to our prayers.
I want to explore those other alternatives in the chapters that follow.
Unfortunately this response and attitude is still prevalent in our fellowships around the world. When we always choose the simple probable cause to such a mystery as prayer we do greater damage still, both to ourselves and to those we pray for. Oh God, help us to be slow in both judgements and jumping to the wrong conclusions for as some one who prays for others I need those who pray for me to infuse their prayers with much mercy, grace, and patience. Thanks David in pressing it home for me to think differently and jumping to a conclusion that would affect both me and those I may pray for. Stephen
Cousin to this harsh position on unanswered prayer is the hurtful conviction that any affliction or untimely loss of a loved one is a deliberate act of God because of personal sin in our life, or worse yet, to “teach us something” about ourselves or about God, or to cause us to turn to Him for help so that we can have a closer relationship with Him. Should a God that would deliberately inflict such pain so that He could help us through it be considered loving and good? Or psychopathic? I hope that those monks you mentioned in your intro are praying for God’s light and life and truth to shine into such darkness, and that His grace will abound.
Good to hear from you. Your name resurrects lots and lots of good memories from Thamesford to Moose Jaw. John Wesley would resonate with your words. He thought such a “god” satanic not divine. Thanks for dropping in on the site. All joy to you and yours!