Prayer is a solemn request addressed to God by us. While most people pray to God for things they like or for the people they care about, does God hear all our prayers? Does he answers all? I had been thinking about this for long time. God helped me to understand few things about the kind of prayers He does not hear and answer through our Pastor’s sermon on our Bible study. So I thought I would share this to all brothers and sister out there who might find this useful.
The Death of Nadab and Abihu
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Leviticus 10: 1, 2
Here we see, Nadab and Abihu who are sons of Aaron, took the unauthorized fire in their censor which God has not ordered and offered them before the LORD. Then there came a fire out of LORD’s presence which devoured them and they died before the LORD. On reading further down chapter we see God commanding Aaron that “Do not drink wine or fermented drink before you go into tent of meeting or you will die”. So it is clear that sons of Aaron were drunk and because of their drunkenness they took the unauthorized fire which God does not order them to and got themselves killed. Let us see how this incident is related to prayers.
As written in Revelation 8
” And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.”
Censer contains Prayers of saints or in other words People of God. These prayers ascended up before God as the angel’s offered them before the God’s throne. God listens to the prayers of people who obey Him and follows His commandments. Let us see what all the prayers that He does not hear or answer to.
Provers 28 : 9
“If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.”
We know God speaks to us through Bible, and we speak to Him through our prayers. Its always two way connection. If we stop listening to His words and following His commands, then God does not listen to our prayers anymore.
“When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!”
Secondly, God does not hear the prayers of people who are constantly sinning against Him. As written in Proverbs 1 they shed the blood of innocent people which increases the wrath of God.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
Few people babble on and on as people in religions do during their prayers. They think their prayers will heard upon repeating the words again and again. But Jesus says, these prayers will go in vain. These will neither be heard nor answered.
“They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
There are few set of people who pray just to show off themselves. They pray for long time. They pray for people just to earn good name from them. For man sees face, God sees heart.
“If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;”
God does not listen our prayers if we hold sins in our heart.
Now that we know this what are we suppose to do? As written in
I corintians 14 : 15
“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.”
We should pray with our spirit and with understanding. We always have Holy Spirit to guide us for He helps us in our weakness and when we do not know what we ought to pray for, Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And most importantly, we have LORD Jesus Christ who is at right hand of God Almighty and is also interceding for us.
Also we should pray like the tax collector who humbled himself before God and confessed his sins to God. Upon seeing his prayer Jesus said he went home justified before God meaning his prayer has been heard. Same way, we should confess our sins and believe Jesus Christ who is faithful, just and will forgive us our sins and purify us through his blood from all unrighteousness.