“Your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2b)
Some of you may know this already, but I pray a LOT. While I’m folding the laundry, doing the dishes, washing my hands, making breakfast, lunch or dinner, vacuuming, are you noticing a trend here? Housework, busy work, if it doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power, I’m praying while I do it. J Well, I’m sure you can imagine that with all these prayers going up I wouldn’t want them to get stuck like flies on flypaper between me and God or the answer to my prayer getting stuck between Him and whomever I’m praying for. Well, I heard a sermon on prayer the other day where the pastor talked about one of Daniel’s prayers getting stuck for twenty-one days before it was delivered to him in person by the angel Gabriel! (Daniel 10) This got me really thinking, what hinders my prayers and answers from getting to where they’re supposed to go? I just had to dig deeper! I was so thrilled with what I found and the liberating qualities of it all that I just had to share it with you TODAY!
Have you ever felt like your prayers are simply just bouncing off the walls & ceiling and coming right back to you like a bounced email with the wrong address? Like God’s not listening or accepting your phone calls, no matter how desperate they are? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly been there before! So when I found Isaiah 59:1-3, I was so relieved. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (aka sins, disobedience to God’s laws) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” Isaiah is explaining that although it may SEEM like God’s not listening or acting to answer our prayers, the reality is, it’s not God’s inactivity that’s causing the communication error, it’s ours! It is because we have unresolved sin lurking in our lives that God isn’t willing to act on our part. Why? Because, every sin that goes unresolved hangs like a strip of flypaper above our heads where we pray, preventing our prayers from flying with wings like eagles up to the LORD above. With our own hands and fingers we have done things we really shouldn’t have, our lips have spoken untruths or half-truths, deceptions, hurtful things and words not fit for the Holy Spirit to hear. We’ve had eyes that have lingered just a liiiiitle too long on things they shouldn’t have, thoughts that should have been cast immediately out of our minds instead of being dwelt upon… and yet they were. All of these things build up, and block the LORD’s precious face from our view; and our prayers from being effectively answered in a timely manner. What sins are we committing to cause Him to turn away from us?
While the list of our flypaper sins may be a mile long, God is loving and abounding in grace and mercy. And in Leviticus 26:40-42 He tells us: “But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers – their treachery against Me and their hostility toward Me, which made Me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies – then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” This scripture is loaded with details on how to get God to remove all the flypaper sins that hinder our prayers from reaching Him so let’s dig in! He starts with the word “But”. As a disciple of Christ, the word “but” is one of my favorites, because it usually follows a long list of things that we’ve done wrong or against God; which is the case here. From verse 14 to verse 39 is a laundry list of all the punishments for disobedience… and then He follows it all with a BUT! Praise God! There is hope for us yet. He follows that but with an “if”. “IF we will confess our sins and the sins of our fathers”, IF, isn’t it so great? God is gracious enough to give us yet another “second” chance. IF we confess our treachery and hostility that we committed toward Him. This scripture tells us that our sins make God “hostile toward us”. I was curious about the Hebrew definition of the word translated hostile so I looked it up and it means “opposition, hostile, or contrariness”. Our sins put us in opposition with God; they put us on the OTHER side of the battle lines that have been drawn. Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m fighting the war of life, I want to be on the SAME side that God’s on! This phrase also explains why our prayers aren’t being answered in the order in which they were received; we’re in opposition to God! First John 5:14-15 tells us “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” So if we’re in opposition to God, then we can’t be according to His will… even if our prayers are! Woo, that is a scary thought! BUT, again, God is gracious, and He remembers! He remembers those prayers, He saves them for later! So that when we have confessed our sins and the sins of our fathers, when our hearts have been humbled and when we’ve paid for our sins (Hallelujah, Jesus did this part for us, otherwise there would be no hope for us) God can pull those prayers back out of the bowl and send the answers down to us as quickly as supernaturally possible! How awesome is our God!?! Oh, but wait, He gets better! Not only does He remember our prayers, He remembers His covenants too! He remembers those promises that He gave to us generations ago, He doesn’t forget them either. God is so good!