Is God Obligated to Answer ALL of Our Prayers?
— Mary A. LaClair
2 Chron 7:14-15
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. RSV (emphasis mine)
Because our land needs healing, let’s unpack this often quoted verse to its fullest. This verse is often heard with emphasis on the words “pray”. But that is not all this verse is saying. Not to be overlooked or diminished, which I think is happening, is the equally important phrase, “and turn from their wicked ways”.
How many times have we heard that part emphasized recently? The emphasis has been mostly on the word “pray”.
What happens if we do in fact pray, but do not in fact turn from our wicked ways?
Is God obligated to fulfill His part of the bargain …….if we do not meet or fulfill the ‘and’ words?
pray …AND seek… AND turn ….They are verbs – action words, if you will.
Who needs to take these actions? We need to know to whom this is addressed. Is it addressed to all people in general? Is it to God’s people? Who are God’s people? It tells us who they are. The ones ‘called by His Name’. The ones claiming to be ‘Christian’.
Can you see that we are the ones who carry the power to get our land healed? Wow! What power with God!
Why, then, is our land not being healed faster than it is?
We can pray, but unconfessed sin is a hindrance to our being heard. Three translations put the same verse this way:
18 If I had ignored my sins,
the Lord would not have listened to me. TEV
8 He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins. 19 But he listened! He heard my prayer! He paid attention to it! TLB
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened; NIV
This seems to deal with thoughts.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. NIV
24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. AMP
Do church leaders need to strain at gnats and swallow camels ?
No. I believe there are large camels of sin in our churches. Where does one start? Well, because of all the sexual harassment claims, let’s start with lust. It is big in the world today and has even crossed lines into the churches. Several high profile pastors have admitted they have been delivered from pornography, many more probably have not; and it is not limited to pastors. Anyone who wants answers to prayers needs to consider themselves. Getting pornography removed from the internet would go a long way to curbing these sins in the Nation and in the church. In view of much sexual misconduct in Congress ; and in view of disrespect for human life via numerous mass murders, whether by vehicle, bombs, guns, or infanticide (abortion at birth), now would be a good time to express the need to respect life. I suggest this may be done by re-criminalizing BOTH porn AND abortion. We did not have these problems when those laws were in effect.
Now may be the time to cite some causes for these national problems and correct them: lack of respect for women and for human life . These are problems for which this Nation should find solutions, and as Christians we should be able to offer them those solutions, but not just for benefit of the church, for the benefit of our government and our country. In solving their problems we might just also be solving our own.
Teaching proper respect for ourselves and for the opposite sex would go a long way, but the Lord says the action itself needs to start with us.
God can’t clean up the world until He first cleans up His church. There are secret sins and not-so-secret-sins hidden within the church.
According to the opening Scripture, which holds a promise: We need to get rid of these sins in God’s people if our prayers are to be answered. Will it start with you and me? If it does, maybe then God can clean up the world a little faster. And God knows we need it. Our prayers won’t get ready answers until we first clean up the church. We can’t expect the world to be cleaner than the church.
1 Peter 3:7
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. NIV
WORK ON THE SOLUTION ! ……..
12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord , my Rock and my Redeemer. NIV
Encourage your flock to ask God to reveal to each individual any unconfessed and unknown sins which may be hindering their prayers. We should encourage repentance of sins while avoiding condemnation or even public confession. Blanket forgiveness of active sins without repentance is not God’s way. Jesus preached repentance. God can identify sin in those who ask, without producing excessive guilt. Repentance still needs to be preached today. Jesus is able to identify sin and convict individuals without condemnation. Let Him do it — but do encourage God’s lambs and sheep to seek God’s help in identifying their sin. Then, when you have cleansed yourself, pray for others to find the same courage of self examination and repentance.
but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. NIV
Blessings upon all!
One final word:
13 For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants. TLB
Is God in you? Pray the sinners prayer, admit sin, ask for His help, ask Jesus into your heart then seek His Holy Spirit more fully.
“Lord Jesus, I admit I’m a sinner, I need your forgiveness, please include my sins with those sins for which you died. Come into my life, help me to be all that you want me to be, come into my heart and let my spirit be born again into Your Holy Spirit, put my feet on the straight path and always guide me in thought word and deed. Thank you Jesus.”
If you prayed that prayer with sincerity, you may now claim the Scripture:
Phil 2:13 13 For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants. TLB
What do you say Pastors: will you preach self-examination and repentance to our church families?
Individuals: are we ready to seek God’s help in this?
God’s blessings be upon us as we work through things with Jesus!