Sunday Worship Service
Heard of preacher. I want to say it might have been John MacArthur but I can't be sure if that's who I remember but they were telling how sister was very sick in the hospital. And this is before he was saved and and there was a critical condition type situation. You know what you might not have made it and and not even being saved. He went into the Chapel of the hospital and prayed fervently not being safe. And I have kind of like the Foxhole prayer, right? You know, you're you're praying but you're really had no right to pray or you're not a believer that kind of thing in and he said in his and the sister was recovered. She healed up she was fine and from his perspective then was that he answered my prayer, but then he said later on he knows I realize that I was even save that you don't may have been just that God's plan was to heal her anyway and despite my unsaved whether you're being heard by God in prayer. And so I'm going to get that a moment. I just want to give a little bit of a kind of a reminder of where we came from last year last week because it ties into this week and last week we talked about the start of prayer which was humility. And we looked at the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and my premise last week was that when one comes to faith in Christ, there's a moment of humility because one realizes how utterly wretched they are and they audit realize how holy goddess. Each person is a sinner. Like I said out early Ratched they're completely in need of being saved and and you can't get saved until you understand that. And to come to Christ one must acknowledge their need for him to save and to come to Christ one must also humble themselves and increase in contrast to the wretchedness of the person one must also realize the Holiness of God. And when you realize the great Gap that exists between our sinfulness or wretchedness, whatever word you want to use in God's holiness you realize that it's an unclosable Gap from our perspective. There's no way we can restore a relationship with God on our own. Other than that we come to faith in Christ and and rely on him and his sacrifice on the cross to do that work of restoring the relationship and bridging that Gap. We can't there's no not enough steps we can take to bridge that gap on our own but that attitude that starts out the life of faith in Christ that attitude realizing how how sorry and wretched one person is that's the attitude we must not lose. We can't lose it and if we do if we forget our need for God cuz we've forgotten how sinful we were that will quickly lead to some self-satisfaction pride a sense that we owe. You know, I kind of deserve salvation in the first place cuz I was one of the good ones it's easy to get down that right route. If we forget where we started from and where we are as still flawed people in our consideration of the Pharisee and the tax collector then last week as we looked at how they prayed. We saw that the Pharisee he was all about self elevation looking at himself from a perspective of I'm pretty good here compared to everybody else and then the tax collector he was about self evaluation. He was properly evaluating himself. So one Elevate himself over the others while the other fully recognizes his sorry state of it. And he comes to God and just shouts out and have Lord have mercy on me a sinner. And Jesus who told that Parable said that the tax collector was justified. The Pharisee was not you may remember I ended the sermon partly that way saying it wasn't that he was justified more than Justified as either all or none. And Jesus said the Pharisees did not was not justified. Even though he had all the actions in the eloquence maybe in all of those things. Sore attitude and prayer has to be like that of the tax collector who realized how wretched he was and how much he needed a savior and in the end the tax collector was justified by his face. The Pharisee was not justified because his face was in his works. Now the theme of last week's sermon continuous and it flows into this week's sermon, which is specifically about some things that can keep us from being heard in our prayers. It's important for us to understand that if we stay humble as the tax collector did and if we keep the attitude of Reliance on God, and we remember to take to live in an attitude when we have a wonder over his love and his Holiness and his Mercy, then we can have the right attitude and we can make sure that our prayers are heard. The Bible is clear that there are some things that keep our prayers from being hurt. And here is one of those areas in the church work sometimes platitude is spoken so often we don't think about it and it's it's it's not necessarily with regard to the truth and we say sometimes very flippantly will and will usually say to children will say no God always hears your prayers. God always answers your prayers. We might say well sometimes the answer is no But is that what scripture tells us? We will see you today that this cannot be true all the time. One he only answers prayers that are in accordance with his will. Perhaps you'll say but I know his well, well, I'm glad that you have such confidence. But unless that confidence is grounded in scripture. Your understanding of God's will may be skewed because work we're very human. We we very often will say you know why I think this must be God's will cuz I want it so bad and that's not a very good way to look at it instead. We need to go to God's word and I've heard people say that praying God's will is the death of prayer that it indicates a lack of faith, if we pray thy will be done or if it is your will and yet the Lord pray this way Jesus himself. He prayed that the father's will be done. It's not a lack of face for to pray that God's will be done. But rather it's a greater Faith because it allows that we're going to say to him that you have your way whether or not that's what I wanted. Later in the series. We're going to be learning about things we should be praying for but for now, I will just say that when Jesus says I will give to you anything you ask in my name. That doesn't mean that we say here is the prayer for what I want in Jesus name. Give me $1000000. In Jesus name I added the magic words on so it must be going to happen. Right? No, in fact what he means by praying and his name is praying under his authority. And that means we pray for things that are in keeping with his nature his will and his plan any prayer that is not in keeping with his nature his will and his plan will not be answered regardless of the prayer was spoken with the utmost confidence or not. Whether or not Jesus name was used is as Jesus model submission to the father. So should we say nevertheless? They will be done. No, I want to look at several examples of when our prayers may not be heard. We're going to look to scripture to see some of these things that may keep us from being heard but more importantly there things that keep our relationship from God from being what it could be. And so we're going to get into that. This is going to be a little different than my normal sermon style, which is more expository where I take a passage and work through it for the whole sermon. Today. We're going to actually look at many different scriptures that end in spend a little time on each one because there's some important things that we need to see in scripture about things that may keep us from being heard by God. The first one is proverbs 28:9 It says if one turns away his ear from hearing the law even his prayer is an abomination.
Sometimes we read through the Proverbs in bulk what I mean by that is will read a chapter the time and there's nothing wrong with that have been part of men's groups were they said, you know read one whatever day of the week as you read that proverb that day and there's 30 one of them. So you get through every month you get through all the Proverbs and there's nothing wrong with that. But sometimes we need to take one proverb all by itself and just think about it look at it. And this one says if it one turns away his ear from hearing the law even his prayer is an abomination.
So what does that mean turns his ear from? We it means that he's not hearing but in the sense that the scripture is getting at here. It's actually hearing with the sense that there's obedience along with the hearing. Okay, if we say to our children or something, you're not hearing what I'm saying? What we often mean is you're not obeying what I'm saying? And that's kind of what this is getting too. It's that if he not just here like he doesn't hear it anymore. Like it's hearing went bad. It's if he's no longer adhering to the law. He's no longer trying to keep God's statutes. So there's obedience involved here. And I'm going to give away my conclusion of the sermon early because we're going to be seeing many times that this resonates again. And again the steam through the the passages. I'm going to give to you but the basic gist of it is this if you refuse to hear God, he will refuse to hear you.
And you're going to hear me say that more than once so you we may want to write it down in your notes even. So there's also the sense of it. It's an Abomination. So it's not simply that God is not hearing the prayer but it's an Abomination unto him it. It's like a stench. It's a vile thing to him. And so we think about that and it's like wow, it's not just that he's not turning us out. He actually is repulsed by the prayer. If we're not a hearing to his word. And and you think about it in a lot of our prayers to God or our for his help in different ways. Well think of a family if a son or daughter never obeys their parents. Does a good parent then grant them every request?
And I'm so goddess. Is that way too. He he wants a relationship with us where we obey him. He's the Creator. He has the right to make those rules and he has and he tells us to obey him and we can expect if we don't obey him to come and say well Daddy here's what I want. Give me all this thing's or whatever or blast me spiritually in this way if we're never obeying him in so that's that's a key component obedience. Now. I want to move to Zechariah Chapter 7. And we're going to look at versus 8 to 14 part of it a longer this discourse here, but I'll read just this part the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying God says the Lord of hosts render true judgments show kindness and mercy to one another do not oppress the Widow the fatherless the Sojourner or the poor and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart, but they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stop their ears that they might not hear. You know, when I hear that reminds me of this week's doing her kids, and I can't hear you.
So they stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts Diamond hard lest. They should hear the law and the words of the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former Prophets. Therefore great anger came from The Lord of hosts as I called and they would not here so they called and I would not hear. Says the Lord of hosts and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations. They had not known that's the land that they left was desolate so that no one went to her throat and the pleasant land was made. That's what you may see a recurring theme here. So God is saying here. If you don't hear me, that means hear and obey. I'm not going to hear you. If you're going to stop your ears to what I'm trying to teach you, I love you. God says I love you to teach you my word. I love you sometimes to discipline you and if you turn your back to that new stop your ears to that. Don't expect me to pick up the phone when you call.
As I called Dave and they would not here so they called and I would not hear says the Lord of hosts why they did not obey his commands and there's some specifics here in this passage that that are specific commands that these people were not obeying at that time. It says regarding the treatment of widows. The fatherless Travelers are sojourners the poor and also they have evil in their heart. So what a terrible thing to not have the ear of the Lord because of your own falling. We've all been there at times. Soft felt the pain of it when God would no longer hear his prayers. And in this case, it was also linked to obedience. Remember that saw? Made King and then lot of Disobedience. I think I preached on that once tonight and and then God said I'm not listening to you anymore. And he tried to call up a medium and all that stuff you remember but Zakaria is giving a similar message here that our conclusion is today that if you refuse to hear God meaning living according to his will he will refuse to hear you?
the next passage Psalm 66 16 through 20 come and hear all you who fear God and I will tell you I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth and High Praise was on my tongue if I had cherished iniquity in my heart. The Lord would not have listened but truly God has listened. He has attended to the voice of my prayer blessed be God because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love for me. So here is someone celebrating that God did answer their prayer, but also noting at the same time if I had had a Nick Woody in my heart, he would not have heard my prayer. He would not have listened. So this is actually a Psalm of Praise that God has heard my prayer but also a recognition at the same time that if I had had an equity in my heart, you wouldn't have hurt my hair hurt my prayer. Now if you are in love with your sin. The Lord will not listen. The psalmist can bless God for hearing his prayer because he did not cherish iniquity in his heart not to cherish is to love or to have fun this or tenderness for and people don't like to admit that they cherish their sins, but very often we do cherish our sin. But if we are cherishing are sending other words were not forsaking it. We're not trying to put it aside. We're not doing all we can to run from it and run back to God then it he will not be hearing us because we're cherishing iniquity in our heart. But in this case the psalmist is saying I didn't have an agree in my heart praise God. He listen to me. He's attended to my request. He's not rejected my prayer. He's not removed his steadfast love. So we see a good contrast there. Now we moved to Isaiah 59 1 and 2. Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save or his ear doll that it cannot hear but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden his face from you. So he did so that he does not hear. So is he is saying it is his God didn't lose his strength. And he hasn't gone bad of hearing. He doesn't need a set of hearing aids. But he is saying that the iniquities have made a separation between you and God. And sins have hidden his face from you. another warning along with the many we've seen don't worry. There's good news at the end of the sermon. I know this is kind of hard stuff right now 1st Peter 3:12. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil Proverbs 1 28 to 31, then they will call upon me but I will not answer they will seek me diligently but will not find me because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord would have none of my Council and despised all of my reproof. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and have their fill of their own devices their own devices. He's not talking about phones there by the way, if you refuse to listen to God, he will refuse to listen to you obey his worth and turn your heart to him and you will be heard but if you hate knowledge that is if you hate to learn his words, if you do not take his counsel, if you despise his reproof or his discipline, then you will be left to your own devices.
That's one of the worst things to have happened to you. If they have God leave you to your own ways. heaven forbid James 4 1 through 3 parents, this is right this one down. This is a good one to read your kids when they're fighting over toys. Okay, what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you is it not this that your passions are at War within you? You desire and do not have so you murder you covet and cannot obtain. So you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your own Passions. There's a lot of preaching out there that'll tell you whatever your passion is. God wants to meet that need and and that need is not a need really anyway, but if you want to have the fancy life you can and you can just pray for it. But if you're asking for something like that to spend it on your passions. Scripture says you're asking wrongly. If you're asking for $1000000 because you want to have a good time and a good life. And you want things to be more comfortable for yourself? You're asking wrongly. But if you ask him for a million dollars because you want to spread the gospel and you're going to do that actively and you need to pay for things and you need to feed people are you need to do whatever you need a building? Well, maybe then you aren't asking wrongly but you still need to be sure you're in the word seeking God's face seeking his will asking that he would show his will to you and that you would be submitted to his will. So asking wrongly to spend on your own Passions. God will not answer prayer like that.
1st Peter 3:7
live with your wive's in an understanding way showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel since they are heirs with you of the grace of life. So that's your prayers may not be hindered.
Husbands live with your wife in an understanding way 1 commentary set it this way your husband. You husband's intern must know how to live with a woman.
And that's really the gist of what it's saying living in an understanding way not expecting your wife to have the exact same emotions about every situation that you have.
NN you got to admit if you're married If you had a little bit of a argument. And it didn't end peaceably. Did you say your prayers at night?
If you did they were hindered but a lot of times they're not set it all. Do you speak to God at all when you're having trouble in your marriage?
So your prayers are hindered if you are not living in an understanding way showing honor to your wife. now wives what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
That's it. All right. All right. So this applies to wives as well. This is one of those. Yes. Peter is writing specifically to husbands there. But obviously you can make a logical leap and say Yes, will this obviously applies both ways. How can God hear your prayer if you despise your husband or mock him or treat him like he's an idiot.
Both husband and wife must realize that your relationship with your spouse affects your relationship with God. Your prayers are hindered when you have a strained relationship with your spouse. God cannot bless it and he will not hear your prayers.
Matthew 6:5 through 8 reminds us a little bit of last week's parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector Jesus at and when you pray you must not be like the Hypocrites they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners that they may be seen by others truly. I say to you they have received their reward, but when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret and your father who sees in secret will reward you and when you pray do not Heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them for your father knows what you need before you ask him. And what and I don't want to spend too much time on that cuz I was all of last week's sermon, right?
Some people sound very beautiful when they pray. And God's not hearing. Job, 27 7 to 10. Let my enemy be as the wicked and let him who rise up against me be as the unrighteous for what is the hope of the Godless when God Cuts him off when God takes away his life. Will God hear his cry when Des pres distress comes up on him. Will he take Delight in the almighty? Will he call upon God at all times? Those are what we call rhetorical questions, right? So he's saying that the unrighteous When you ask rhetorical question, the answer is no right. So no God's not going to hear his cry. When does stress comes upon Him Isaiah 29:13 and 14 the Lord said because this people will because of people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and their fear of me is a commandment Top by men there for behold. I will again do wonderful things with this people it with Wonder upon Wonder in the wisdom of the wise men Shall Perish and the discernment of the Discerning man shall be heading in this case wonder is not a good thing. Ok. What he's saying, there is this fear of me is Commandments of top by men in other words worrying more about the expectations of people then worrying about obeying what God has commanded clearly.
So now I've read a lot of these passages in there are more by the way more passages in Scripture that talk about when God may not hear your prayer or he won't answer your prayer. But no matter how eloquent your prayers are. If you are not in obedience to Christ your prayers are not going to be heard. If you do not heed his word. If you refuse to hear him, he will not hear you. You could have the most poetic prayer you've ever heard. You can sing your prayers. You could make them into poetry. You could use the King's English. You could look good doing it. You could develop your voice to sound Majestic or sambar. You could be the best extemporaneous speaker there. You could pray with passion around the table. You could speak words with great Passion, but you still will not be hurt your prayers not answered when your heart is bitter towards others when you look down on others when your marriage is a mockery. And when you have a hardened heart when you will not listen to God's teachings found in scripture when you are living like a hypocrite when you fear man more than you fear God. Maybe you hear all this and you fall into one of those categories and you're thinking to yourself. Maybe I have a hardened heart. Maybe I'm too much in love with my sin. And maybe you think yeah, I usually don't want to listen to God's word makes me uncomfortable. What whatever it is in this message that may have struck you this morning that has maybe the holy spirit is convicting you of something that you need to change. You might be saying what if he can't hear my prayers because I'm in one of those categories then what can I do? If God does not hear the prayers of all those categories we just heard. Then how can they come to a place where their prayers heard? I have good news for you. There is an exception so you could be all of those things and still have God hear your prayer. And the reason for that is that God always hears a prayer of sincere repentance. He will hear you. If you have a broken and contrite heart he loves to restore the relationship with anyone who cries out him sincerely.
Isaiah 66 1 and 2 that's says the Lord heaven is my throne and the Earth is my footstool. What is the house that you would build for me? And what is the place of my rest all these things? My hand has made and so all these things came to be declares the Lord but this is the one to whom I will look he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Isaiah 57:15 219 for thus says the one who is high and lifted up who inhabits eternity whose name is Holy. I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly Spirit to revive the spirit of the lowly and the revised the heart of the contract. I will not contend forever nor will I always be angry for the spirit would grow faint before me and the breath of life that I made because of the iniquity of his unjust gain. I was angry I struck him. I had my face and was angry but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will leave and restore Comfort to him and his mourners creating the fruit of the lips peace peace to the far into the nearest that the Lord and I will hear him. Why? Because he will. He will look down on the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit and revive the heart of the contrite. And so we see that God in scripture is generous to us that he gives us strong warnings about consequences of our own sin. He does that because he loves us. He disciplines us sometimes when we're in those sense. Because he loves us because he wants the relationship restored between us and him. The only way that happens is when we cry out to him with sincere and Humble Hearts. And I'm going to close with Psalm 51. Psalm 51 In the by am I in mine that says to the choirmaster psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him after he'd gone to Bathsheba.
You may remember the story David and bathsheba's pretty well-known story. Texas good friend's wife Send his friends battle to be killed. horrible horrible sin Nathan the prophet comes and he tells a little story about a sheep.
You can read about that on your own, but David Gets outraged. At this kind of parable or story that that Nathan the prophet tells him. He's emotional about it and then an angry right just kind of way. How could someone do this to their neighbor?
And Nathan the prophet.
Says you are the man.
David could have had one or two responses then Valley of probably a variety of responses. One of them is he he was King. He could have done it as Herod did to John the Baptist. He could have said Nathan you're done being the prophet for now or forever. Could have ignored him he could have said angrily or not. You know, I'm not dealing with that but no. The Bible tells us the David was a man after God's Own Heart and when God spoke to David through Nathan the prophet.
David's heart was broken over his relationship with God and what he had done. And he said I've send not against anything but God. and here Psalm 51
a sincere prayer of repentance
This is the type of prayer that God hears.
You're sitting there stubborn and bitter over something or or any of those other things that we went through very quickly.
You can come just like David did. And you can come to God with a repentant heart. He will once again hear your prayer. David said this have mercy on me. Oh God, according to your steadfast love according to your abundant Mercy blot out. My transgressions wash me throughly from my iniquity and cleanse me for my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment behold. I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me behold you Delight in truth in the inward being and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness let the bones that you have broken Rejoice hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart o God and renew a right Spirit Within Me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me restore to me the joy of my salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit and then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you deliver me from blood-guiltiness. Oh Lord. Oh god of my salvation and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not Delight in sacrifice, or I would give it you will not be pleased with a burnt offering the sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit a broken and contrite heart o God, you will not despise. Do good cuz I am in your good pleasure build up the walls of Jerusalem, then we'll eudialyte and right sacrifices and burnt offerings and hold the burnt offerings the Bulls shall be offered on your altar.
As I close the sermon. I ask that you seriously examine your own heart.
I'm not here to manipulate you or anything like that. I presented to you God's word.
God wants to have I want I want a relationship with you. He wants to be able to hear your prayers.
He loves you.
He loves to bring Sinners to himself.
The only way that happens. It's for us to lower ourselves. The Humble ourselves before the holy God An appeal to him as David did for his Mercy.
And he will answer.
I ask that you take the brochure the other hand out that's in the bulletin home with you and look it over. During the week perhaps examine yourself using some of the questions that are there.
It may do you some good?
May bless you if you respond to the Lord.
I thank you for your word this morning. And I pray to God that is we are studying this topic of Prayer.
That our attitude before you would be the right attitude.
And Lord, I pray that we wouldn't need Nathan the prophet to come. Before we confess but Lord that we would confess freely our own sin our own falling this. And are desperate need for you. But I pray that those listening will respond in that way. appealing to you for your Grace & Mercy With a sincere heart because Lord, I know you answer. And I know you will save.
And Lord as we go through this week, I pray that you would help us by your Holy Spirit. When we're praying. Help us to pray the right things help us to do the right things and help us to hear you so that you may hear us in Jesus name. Amen.
if you would stand with the number 307