"Call to Me, and I will answer you..." (Jeremiah 33:3). What a blessing is prayer! Through prayer God has enabled us to be able to talk directly to Him, to personally present to Him all of our needs, concerns, thoughts, and fears. He has promised us that, because of His unlimited power, our prayers can make a difference for good, they change things (James 5:16). But, the scriptures are clear that there are people to whose prayers God will not listen. Why would God not listen to somebody's prayers?
The simple answer is, "Sin!" But, it is not that God will not listen to a person's prayers simply because that person commits a sin. It is through prayer that a Christian who has sinned is to purposefully ask God's forgiveness (Acts 8:22).
But, when a person is living an ongoing lifestyle of sin, and does not repent, God can choose to stop listening to that person's prayers. Many scriptures deal with this scenario, several examples being: Psalm 18:40-41; 34:14-16; Proverbs 15:8-9, 29; Isaiah 59:1-3; John 9:31; 1 Peter 3:11-12.
The very idea that God would not listen to their prayers would be shocking to many people. Virtually everyone, regardless of how unfaithful to God they might be, of how wicked and completely ungodly are their lives, of how totally disrespectful to God they have become, they still believe they can pray anytime and expect God to listen to their prayers! Many people would become quite emotional, some even angry, at the suggestion that perhaps God might not be listening to their prayers.
The idea that individuals can disrespect God through continual disobedience and unfaithfulness, and that God will still always pay full respect to their prayers is presumptuous, to say the least. It could also be described as arrogant, absurd, even downright ungodly and wicked.
The right to pray to God is a blessing, and with blessing goes responsibility. Describing our responsibility could be honed down to one word, faithfulness! God expects us to be faithful. Faithfulness is not equivalent to simply having faith in God's existence. The demons in Hell believe in God (James 2:19). Faithfulness is consistent dedication to God, evidenced by living by His teachings.
Sin is transgression of God's teachings and demonstrates unfaithfulness (1 John 3:4). A godly lifestyle and a sinful lifestyle cannot co-exist within the same individual. Sin will separate a person from God. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). In response to a person willingly living in sin, God can choose to not listen to that person's prayers: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (Psalm 66:18).
Sin is not to be played around with. Its ultimate consequence is death (Romans 6:23). Related potential consequences are many, one of the most terrible of which is the loss of the assurance that God will listen to your prayers. Don't be careless with your relationship with God. Don't be careless with your soul. Be respectful of God in the way you live before Him. Be responsible with the blessings that He bestows upon you, one of the most precious of which is prayer...
Gary L. Hutchens