"The Conditions of Prayer"
The Condition of Devotion
Those who have no regard for the will of God should expect that He will have no regard for their prayers. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). This should never include born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the Holy Spirit is working "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
That being said, it is true that our experience of devotion to God may be far more keen sometimes than at others. The New Testament epistles, perhaps most vividly I Corinthians, depict frequent waywardness by those clearly identified as Christians (I Corinthians 3:3). Certainly this hindered their prayers, or even more, God's hearing of their offerings. From II Corinthians, we receive strong indication that the Corinthians repented of their many missteps, which doubtless provided restoration of their prayers and God's answers (II Corinthians 7:9-11).
How faithful must we be to the will of God in order to pray and expect answers? David's statement above provides helpful insight. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." The Hebrew root word for "regard" is "raah," meaning to look upon or consider something with approval. Regarding sin, in times when we succumb to the temptation to become comfortable with some deviation from God's will, our prayers will be hindered. Certainly our spiritual enemies can deceive us into accommodating fleshly detours. No less than the Apostle Paul confessed, "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing." Moreover, Paul testified to a time in his Christian life when "sin revived and I died" (Romans 7:18; 9). By this, Paul confessed that he succumbed to the temptation of temporarily returning to the law as a means of seeking acceptability with God (a common temptation faced by early Jewish believers). This doubtless affected Paul's prayers during the time of his detour from the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus. This speaks powerfully to us that no believer is immune from deception, distraction, and deviation from God's will. We can all "regard iniquity." However, like Paul, repentance, confession, and renewed devotion to God's will and His truth provides restoration to a prayerful walk with our Lord. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
Sinless perfection is not required for a faithful prayer life, unless we refer to the spotless Savior whose death, resurrection, and ascension paves a clear path to the Throne of grace for believers. We should and must possess a heart of genuine devotion to God's will, realizing that prayer first involves the fulfillment of His desires rather than our own. "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Certainly we must determine to seek the glory and will of God in order to have confidence in our praying. However, a patient and merciful Heavenly Father beckons us to Himself. He desires to answer our prayers far more than we desire to pray them. Thus, He works mightily in us to maintain our access through Christ, and our consecration to His glory and will. We respond by faith and by consistent affirmation of devotion within our hearts, and seeking to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to do God's will.
"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."
(I John 3:22)
Weekly Memory Verse
"I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men."
(I Timothy 2:1)