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Posted: January 31, 2013 6:30 p.m.

Caldwell: Is God listening?

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.

Isaiah 1:15

Do you ever consider that God doesn’t hear your prayers? The answer for most of us would be no. We just assume that he does. The fact is, sometimes he refuses to hear our prayers. In Isaiah 1, God is speaking to his people and literally telling them that he will not listen to them. Why in the world would he do that? Is not God obligated to hear the prayers of his people? The answer is simply, no. He has no obligation whatsoever. God has always required whole-hearted obedience from his people. Israel at the time was practicing anything but, yet they thought that they could pray and be heard. We are no different today. We call ourselves Christ followers and live our lives however we want. We forget the necessity of obedience when it comes to God hearing our prayers. Some may say that I have hopped on the works wagon. Works are what we’re created for and obedience is what is required of us.

Consider the words of Christ in John 15. He tells us in verse 14 that we are his friends if we do what he commands. Shortly thereafter he gives the promise,

"Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." The promise has a premise-obedience. He did not say profess faith in me. He did not say just get baptized. He is calling for obedience. I’m a father. When my children are obedient, they are far more likely to have their requests heard. But when they are disobedient, the opposite is true. I would never ever reward them for bad behavior. So why do we expect God to do so?

Perhaps the problem is that we rarely see ourselves as disobedient. We try to avoid the big sins (whatever they may be for you) and see that as righteousness. What if God doesn’t see it that way? Let’s examine ourselves. When is the last time you lashed out in anger? When is the last time you involved yourself in a little gossip? When is the last time you told a lie? Are you harboring a little unforgiveness? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then we’ve been disobedient. Disobedience warrants correction not rewards. Still we send our prayers heavenward fully expecting God to hear and not only that, answer.

There is a way to ensure that your prayers are heard. It’s not easy but nothing worth having ever is. It is through obedience that our prayers are heard, total submission to Christ and omission of our will. Further on in Isaiah chapter one God tells his people how to be heard.

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Isaiah 1:16-20 KJV

Obedience to God was the way to right the mess they were in. Through obedience, forgiveness and restitution was offered. They’re prayers would be heard. If we are obedient it shows that we love God. Jesus said that in John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Is God hearing your prayers? How obedient are you? Do you desire to see God move in your life? Obedience to His commands is the key that unlocks His blessings. I pray that the church, like Israel will turn from our ways and follow wholeheartedly after God, knowing that our prayers will be heard and that our Christ will be seen. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Chad Caldwell is the lead pastor of Journey Church off the square and can be reached at chad@lifejourneytogether.org.

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