Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts:
Peter, Solomon, David, and Isaiah have warned us about unheard prayers, now we go to Zechariah.
As we read from David, we can’t “regard iniquity” – we must repent from sin for God to hear us. However Zechariah intensifies it – if we don’t listen to God’s conviction about sin, God may not listen to us.
Zechariah outlines what led to this:
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
Because they refused to hearken, “they made their hearts as an adamant stone” (Zechariah 7:12). In Hebrews we’re warned about hardening our hearts:
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
The time to repent is today!
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Don’t put it off and let your heart be hardened. Whenever God convicts you of sin – be quick to repent!
7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:7
If you are married (as I recently became), there’s a special concern for you in regards to prayer. How we treat our spouses affects our prayer life!
1 Corinthians 11:3 points out a “chain of command” that illustrates the effect on prayer:
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3
How a husband treats his wife is how he is asking God to treat him.
Let’s look at the Unforgiving Debtor to see this illustrated. The lord was “was moved with compassion” (Matthew 18:27) and treated the unforgiving servant kindly. Until the unforgiving servant cast the other servant into prison until that debt was paid (Matthew 18:30). That action changed the attitude of the lord towards the unforgiving servant (sent him “to the tormentors”) for the same length of time as the unforgiving servant was to the other servant (til the debt was paid) (Matthew 18:34).
If I want God’s blessing – how should I treat my wife?
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Piper notes that Peter is teaching “not that praying helps us live right, but that living right helps us pray.”
MacArthur gives 3 practical tips on how to care for your wife: Be Considerate, Be Chivalrous, and Be a Companion.
We’ve set reminders to pray throughout the day to break up our routine so we can remember our LORD!
We’ve looked at the shortest prayers in the Bible
We’ve set up a mnemonic to help organize our prayer requests
Now – let’s make sure we have a clear path to God! As the old song goes, there should be nothing between my soul and the Savior!
How can we make sure there’s nothing between? Let’s repent of sin that we’re keeping in our heart.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
Has God pointed out some sin in your life? How can you deal with it? David’s Psalm 51 points out three key truths:
Admittance – God already knows about it. God knew Adam sinned, He just wanted to let Adam respond. (Genesis 3:8-13). Don’t blame others – just admit what you did.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Brokenness – You didn’t make a mistake. You didn’t offend your neighbor. You sinned against God. You disobeyed the King of the Universe. Too often we try to minimize our sin and maximize ourselves. But God wants us to be broken.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Cleansing – We got into the mess, but we need someone to get us out of the mess. Ask God to cleanse you from your sins. Ask Him to redirect your thoughts!
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Take some time to repent of whatever sin God is bringing to your mind.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
This is our seventh day looking at unheard prayers in the Bible. What makes God ignore your prayer requests? “That ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
What kind of prayer requests are these that people make that will not be fulfilled? From John MacArthur:
They’re not searching for God, they’re searching for all the things that God gives, like joy, peace, happiness, meaning, value, hope, fulfillment. Everyone looking for that, everybody is. But they don’t want God, they just want that, and they think that’s available through their worldly loves. And so he says you have not because you ask not. All that you really would desire to have of true joy, true satisfaction, true happiness, true hope, true meaning, true purpose is available from God if you would ask.
Are you seeking the benefits, or the Source of the benefits?
If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?
Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry…
As Robert Robinson wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord I fear it, Prone to leave the God I love.”
If you haven’t noticed by now, God is serious about sin. Take some time to browse these sins pointed out in the Bible and see if God is convicting you about any of these:
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) – Idolatry, Blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, Disobedience, Murder, Adultery, Theft, Lying, and Covetousness.
The Works of the Flesh (Galatians 5) – “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings”
Put Off (Colossians 3:8) – “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
Not inheritors (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) – “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
In addition to the “lists” there are the individual sins – pornography, or trusting in riches, for example.
I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;
Job 31 is a good review of the “disciplines of a godly patriarch.” Browse thru the lists and pray for God to reveal to you where you have sinned, but also to keep your heart tender to His conviction.