At times Scripture can seem difficult to understand and we wrestle with the words to try and discover their meaning. At other times it is so devastatingly simple and clear that we wish it was more complicated and difficult to understand – so that we would have a good excuse for not putting what God has said into practice! Today’s Scripture is one of these – so clear and so obvious that we can be tempted to wish it wasn’t so!
What can be clearer than what the Apostle Peter wrote in his letter? It’s so simple! God hears the prayers of those who are righteous, but he turns away from those who do evil. I am reminded of what the Psalmist wrote about his prayers in Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Again his words are devastatingly simple – the cherishing of sin in the heart (much the same as Peter’s ‘doing evil’), means that God is unable to listen to the cries of our heart or, in other words, our prayers.
I fully realise that there can be other reasons why God doesn’t always answer the prayers we make at the time we ask Him. But sometimes, when trying to help people through the problems of their lives, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to ask some hard questions about the cherishing and practice of sin in their hearts – not always the obvious sins of commission, but those that can be more hidden which have their root in pride and secret rebellion against the ways and the will of God. Unvarnished honesty, followed by repentance and receiving forgiveness, is so often the key to the power of God being released in our lives.
So, by way of response to today’s Scripture, may I encourage you to pray the prayer which the Psalmist recorded in Psalm 139:23 & 24 – a prayer which I have made our prayer for today. If we then wait to listen to God’s response we may be surprised to hear Him speaking to us and giving us some important keys as to why our prayers may not have been answered!
Prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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