Post details: Selective Hearing


Permalink 03:39:30 pm, Categories: By Emily, 580 words   English (US)

Selective Hearing

Today during Bible study, a question came up about prayer. A sister in Christ told me she had a friend who told her that the Lord does not hear your prayers if you are living in sin. She said that there are Bible verses that back this up. I did some research and.....

Here are my thoughts on this matter:

We know that God is omniscient, which means that He knows all things. Psalms 44:21 says, "Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart." This means that He knows the depths of our hearts. He knows when we sit and when we rise, He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows the secrets we hold in our hearts--whether we are truly seeking after Him. He does hear our prayers--when we mumble a silent prayer to Him, or when we seek in our hearts to do His will in a certain situation. Even those things are a prayer, uttered from our hearts. And He hears those prayers.

Yet, our God desires to be at the center of our hearts. It grieves Him to see us run astray. In Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah proclaims the words of the Lord to all, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: 'I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me...'" It saddens the Lord to see His children rebel and turn from Him.

This is where I think we get distracted. When we turn our little faces away from the direction of the Lord, we start wanting our own selfish agendas. If our hearts and actions are not in line with God, we are only focusing on ourselves.

Here is a verse about how God hears the prayers of the righteous. 1 Peter 3:12 says "For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." And again in Psalms 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles." Is this not a wonderful promise to those who seek after the Lord earnestly? He hears the prayers of His children!

In Isaiah 1:15, the Lord says "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood." The imagery here in the words of the Lord is amazing. It's not that He can't hear the prayers of the wicked, but rather, He chooses not to hear them. He hides His eyes. If we are living in sin, the Lord God calls upon us to repent and remove the things in our lives that cause us to stumble. Acts 3:19 tells us to repent. "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." The Lord's presence is among those who earnestly seek after Him, and continually repent from their sins.

Overall, it is a matter of the heart. Even if we are in the depths of sin, if we come with an open repentant heart, He will hear our pleas for help. The Lord can save anyone with a willing heart. Isaiah 59:1 says, "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear."

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Comment from: Zeke [Visitor] ·
Can anyone truly claim at any given time to be without sin? Recall that to not match the glory of God is sin "...for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God..." Recall also that we are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and strength. Can anyone truly claim that they do even that? As in all?

My concern is this: to one degree or another, we are all "in sin." The implication is that there's some level of sin at which God apparently wills himself not to listen to prayer, but how can we presume to usefully instruct ourselves or others as to when that actually is? Do we become as Luther, obsessed with doing penance for every perceived imperfection?

I don't get it. Either grace is sufficient, or it isn't... unless I'm missing something.

Okay, I take that back. I'm definitely missing something. :)
Permalink 10/24/07 @ 16:28
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Hi Emily,

I think of David who was after God's own heart. David loved God even if he did sin and sinned pretty badly but he loved God and could not stay unrepentant before Him. I think when our heart is hardened by sin to the point of nonrepentance and evern prefering our sin over our relationship with God that He then chooses not to hear us. How else could He bear it? I know as a mom of adult children that don't always live the way I know they should, there comes a point in which, I really don't want to know what they are doing because I know there is nothing I can do to stop them and they won't listen to sound advise. That is about all I have to compare it to. We all make mistakes but if we love God, eventually we learn to do better through applying His forgiveness and listening to His counsel.

Good post, Emily.

Permalink 10/24/07 @ 17:17
Comment from: j [Member] ·
I believe we can all claim to be without sin... only we claim it by faith.

Righteousness has 2 aspects: positional and experiential.

When we're "saved" we immediately become "positionally" righteous. Then, as we begin to work out our salvation, we gradually begin to "experience" what Christ has already accomplished for us "positionally'.

Grace is sufficient. Our sins have already been forgiven. Each day, we walk it out. And God hears us because of Christ.

Permalink 10/24/07 @ 17:21
Comment from: emilyc [Member] ·
Zeke...without a doubt grace is sufficient. :) It is the wonderful gift God has given us. I wrote this because I wondered whether or not there does come a point where God just decides not to listen to us. Hmmm.....and the ONLY thing I could come up with is it is all a matter of our own hearts individually. God knows us and He knows our hearts. In this, it is like salvation--we are not the judge. By accepting God's grace and living like it(actively, of course) I think He DOES listen to our prayers.
Permalink 10/24/07 @ 17:35
Comment from: Trent [Member] ·

You already said all of this in another way, sister. I am just echoing your blog.

If I stand before God, and He hears my prayers for a season, and then the only thing that changes is that a consciousness of my shortcomings, and that is enough to cause be to shrink back, then by what means did I think that I stood before God in the first place? What gave me my standing?

The running way after bad performance reveals why I thought I could stand there in the first place: good performance.

This is self-righteousness wherein I think that my good performance forces God (giving Him no choice but to) to bless me. And it is likewise pride whenever I say that my bad performance gives God no choice but to tune me out. Either way, it is all about what I have done ... and God is a responder that I control with my performance.

Here is another way to look at all this. God listens to the prayers of His children ... each of them, at all times. The Shepherd tends to all the sheep (each of which wander often.) Any move we make in His direction is matched 1000 fold by His move in our direction. Our penitence is amplified by His compassion millions of times over. He actively rescues those that are taken into trouble by the enemy.

He is the Good Shepherd, not a touchy manipulator, nor reluctant, nor is He hesitant to help those of which He looks and sees Himself within them by His blood.

Pray to Him!
Talk to Him!
Call out!
He always turns with glee to the wayward child ... the prodigal son, whom He loves so much!

Lets not let the devil make us feel trapped on the "outside" when He stands at the porch watching with binoculars down the path for our return. He longs to throw a party in pure celebration just as soon as we turn from our silly stumbling. And we have this position, by faith in the work of the Lord, not faith in our own performance.

Permalink 10/24/07 @ 22:23
Comment from: emilyc [Member] ·
TRENT: "He is the Good Shepherd, not a touchy manipulator, nor reluctant, nor is He hesitant to help those of which He looks and sees Himself within them by His blood."

Indeed, Brother Trent, THIS is the point I was trying to make. I did not like to hear my friend speaking about how God does not hear the prayers of people living in sin. We all fall short, you know. We all sin, and SO many times we have EACH been that dirty child hobbling back to the porch full of bruises and cuts. He does hear us and welcome us back, if indeed we do come back to Him with a repentant heart.
Permalink 10/24/07 @ 22:40
Comment from: Timothy [Member] ·
Em, reminds me of that song..."Take You Back". It goes: "I'll take you back...always"
Permalink 10/29/07 @ 16:51
Comment from: Timothy [Member] ·
Here we go:

Jeremy Camp \ Take You Back

The reason why I stand
The answer lies in you
You hung to make me strong
Tho my praise was few
When I fall I bring your name down

But I have found in you
A heart that bleeds
Forgiveness replacing all these thoughts of painful memories
And I know your response will always be

I'll take you back always
Even when your fight is over now
I'll take you back
Even when the pain is coming through
I'll take you back

You satisfy this cry of what I'm
looking for And I'll take all I can
and lay it down before
The throne of endless grace now
that radiates what's true
I'm in the only place that erases
all these faults that have overtaken me and
I know that your response will always be


I can only speak with a graceful heart
As I'm pierced by this gift of your love
I will always bring an offering
I can never thank you enough

You take me back always
Even when my fight is over now
You take me back
Even when the pain is coming through
You take me back

Permalink 10/29/07 @ 16:57
Comment from: lenbenhear [Member] ·
This is my faith also: ALL who can [and will] CALL UPON HIS NAME *shall* be saved, ... as per the PROMISE of the Scriptures.
... and, of course, GOD SEES THE HEART with absolute perfection.

"And IN THAT DAY, *whosever shall call upon the Name of The Lord [Jesus Christ]* shall be saved." period.

He knoweth His own, ... and they know His Voice when He bids them, "Come."

Permalink 10/31/07 @ 19:25

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