God will not listen to your prayers

Does God always listen to our prayers? The answer to that question is no, God does not always listen to our prayers. That’s a response that is shocking to some people. We typically think the idea is that God is compassionate, loving and merciful at all times, and that he’s always ready to hear our prayers. I Googled does God always listen to our prayers? And basically the first full page of responses on Google was that, yes, God always listens to our prayers. He is always there. He’s always there for us. He’s always ready to hear. He’s always ready to listen.

Some of them gave the disclaimer. He doesn’t always answer our prayers exactly the way we want him to answer our prayers, but he is always listening to everything that we say, and they give a few passages to support this. One of the ones that they give to support this is a 1 John passage that basically says if we ask according to his will, he is faithful and he’s always going to listen to what we say. I would point out that the caveat in that 1 John passage, and I think that’s chapter 5 of 1 John, the caveat is that he listens to those who ask according to his will. It’s very obvious that people can ask things of God that are not in accordance with his will, or that are in direct contradiction to his revealed will. Those prayers are things that God does not need to listen to.

They also go to a passage in 1 Peter 3 which basically says that he promises that he will always hear our prayers. Again, there’s a caveat given and that there is that he always hears the prayers of the righteous. Who are the righteous? I’m not going to get into the semantics. The idea here is that those who are living and trying to ask things in accordance with God’s will, people who are not in complete defiance to God and running from Him, He will listen to their prayers. He may not answer their prayers exactly the way we want Him to or expect Him to or would like to mandate that He do. But he listens to the prayers of the righteous.

Is it possible for those who are in rebellion to God’s will to pray and not be heard by God? The answer is yes, and the best evidence that we have for it is from Isaiah 1:15. It says, “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; God says your hands are full of blood.” The shedding of innocent blood, as we’ve been discussing in this video series, is something that God takes extraordinarily seriously. He speaks to it with specificity. He speaks to it often, and he speaks to it with great clarity. He doesn’t just allow the shedding of innocent blood to pass by, nor does he allow us to allow the shedding of innocent blood on our watch and not do anything about it. It’s so serious that God who is compassionate, who is love, who does want to hear and answer our prayers for our good and for his glory, will turn his back on those who pray, again without getting into semantics.

If I tell one of my children that I am not going to listen to their requests, that does not necessarily mean that I won’t hear the words that they speak. I may hear the words that they speak, but my posture will be to block them out and ignore the request, knowing that it is not in line with what is best for my own children. I will not respond. I will not dignify some requests with a response. In effect, I will not be listening to what they say, even though my ears may hear and register what they say. I am not open to being swayed by their petitions. This is God’s posture toward those who have innocent blood on their hands.

I was reminded at church yesterday that King David really wanted to build a temple for the Lord. The reason that God gave as to why he was not going to allow David to build a temple was because he had too much blood on his hands from the wars that David had fought against Saul and against others. There was too much blood on David’s hands, but God did promise that David’s son, Solomon, would be able to build that temple. And Solomon was a man of comparative peace. A man without blood on his hands, so to speak, or to the same extent that David had.

The whole point of this is that we can assume that God hears our prayers at all times because we assume that God is gracious and loving and compassionate at all times. But God has specifically told us that under the condition that we pray with blood on our hands, knowing that we are living outside of the will of God and knowing that we are living in direct contradiction to the revealed commands of God, God will turn his back and will not listen to those prayers unless those prayers become prayers of repentance specifically, as we read in Isaiah 1:15-17.

When you repent, if you repent, then even those who have innocent blood on their hands, God will incline a listening ear. He may again not answer exactly the way you want him to or expect him to, but he will hear your prayers once again if you come to him in repentance. Make no mistake though, God is not required to listen and to respond and to be moved and to be manipulated by people who have no interest in his statutes and his ways. We are to come to God in humility, repentance and obedience. In those conditions, God is thrilled, happy and satisfied to incline his ear and incline his heart toward those who come to him with their righteous requests.

Today, I encourage you to go to the PassionLife website and do something very specific. I encourage you to sign up for the text updates that PassionLife sends while we are on our overseas trips. We do not do this often. Sometimes you may get one or two texts from us in a month, but go right now to the PassionLife.org website. There is a place where you can sign up to receive text updates in real time when we are on our trips and sharing these very concepts that we’re speaking about here today.

These are the biblical theological concepts that we’re discussing in places like Chile, Cuba, Romania, Africa and all over Asia. While we’re on those trips, often we have something that comes up, a prayer request or something exciting that we want to share right away that we won’t share necessarily later on in great detail. Those are wonderful ways to keep up with how God is moving in the ministry of PassionLife. So please today, go to the PassionLife website and sign up for the text updates that will come to your phone from passionlife.org.