We all have those moments, where we pray and have faith for something…sometimes we might even fast for it…and nothing happens. God doesn’t move, doesn’t speak, and doesn’t even whisper on it. I have spent a lot of time in this place, praying for things to come to pass…listening to popular preachers talking about how the time is “now”, this is the “new season”, and the blessing is “right around the corner”. If you were to listen to them, you’d swear we had a new season every week and we should be rolling in [earthly] “blessings” right now (these blessings being things of the flesh, not spiritual blessings)….but what happens when you look up a year or two down the line, and you’re still hearing these same promises but don’t see the results? Well, one of few things could be happening:
1. The preachers are teaching a word not led by His Holy Spirit, catering to what people want to hear, instead of what God is truly speaking, or
2. God is moving, the promise is true, but like Abraham and Sarai, you may have to wait longer than you thought, longer than expected, to receive the blessing, or
3. God is not moving, simply because there is sin in your life that needs to be dealt with, that you are refusing to deal with…. God has already made you aware of this…it’s you who refuses to acknowledge and deal.
To figure out which it is one must spend time in prayer asking God’s help to understand. Sometimes it might be that you need only to wait, just like Abraham, and trust God. If this is the case, He will tell you so, send a confirming word and give you peace in your heart about this (the kind of peace that no one can shake).
If it’s preachers, just preaching what people want to hear, if you ask God’s help in identifying true teachers from false teachers, He’ll help you identify who is teaching for Him vs. themselves. One thing that stands out about false teachers is that they tell you want you want to hear. The messages are always about prospering, favor, getting a breakthrough or blessing right around the corner. How God wants to make YOUR dreams come to pass (key word, YOUR dreams), when the reality is, we are here to serve God and make His Kingdom plans come to pass (and if God sees fit to bless us by making some of our dreams a reality (that fall in line with His plans) then praise God for that kind of favor, but that is NOT the reason we are here on this earth as ambassadors for Christ).
God is a good, forgiving and loving God; but, He is also a vengeful, just and jealous God who does NOT tolerate sin and will make all children (those who serve Him and those who turn their backs on Him) deal with the consequences of their sinful choices (though in His grace, He may not make the consequences as severe as they should be/would have been). We would all do well to remember this.
Finally, the most common reason is that there is sin in our lives hindering our prayers (and my reason for this post). Sin that we refuse to deal with for whatever reason, some sins that we don’t even acknowledge because “it is just who we are”. I read Isaiah 58 this morning and it talked about those who fast, but their prayers don’t get heard/answered. It discussed how the people were praying and fasting to God, but He wasn’t receiving the prayers because their actions were counterproductive to the faith. Oh, I’m sure you’re thinking about the “big sins” (all sin is sin, but we know humans rank sin as if some are worse than others) sex outside of marriage, murder, adultery, etc. and those are indeed included, but what about those sins we consider the “lesser” sins? These are the things spoken of in Isaiah, gossiping, slandering, lying, bickering with the “haters”, trying to be better than other people, arrogance, not helping those in need, talking about other people’s sin like we don’t sin, hating family members, etc….
Actually, let me break this down in today’s terms so we really get it: Being on Facebook blasting people you don’t like, cursing people out, putting people’s business in the streets, gossiping about folk whether you know them or not (celebrities or not), one minute we’re posting scripture and the next we posting sexual, vulgar, graphic, violent, etc. We make fun of people we don’t know without thought of how it makes them feel, and then flip out when someone makes one comment about our life, what we do, how we do it, etc. Oh and I’m NOT just talking about YOU, this is myself included, I’m guilty of many things here as well.
We share all kinds of stories and hold “discussions” about the poor, homeless, hungry….but we won’t actually help them. We walk by them on the streets every day, can see them panhandling on the corner and appease ourselves by saying “they just gone use it on drugs and/or booze anyway” instead of just giving and letting God deal with the rest. We spend thousands/millions of dollars [over our lifetime] on weaves, nails, new shoes, clothes, eating out, going out, buying snacks, getting that extra cable channel, game systems, cars, furniture, trying to keep up with the Joneses and …and make people think we have more than we have.
Yet, when the church asks for some money, the first thing out our mouths is “the church always begging” or, “I aint got it” REALLY? Even if you don’t want to give it to a church, what’s stopping you from setting aside 10% of your income to help people in your local community who may not have as much as you do? Why not donate to some of the nonprofits you know are out here helping people. What about a family member in need? If you don’t have money, why not volunteer your time to go to the food pantries, homeless shelters, hospitals, schools, etc – go where you are needed and give what you can? We ALL have time.
We go to church and miss the word because we have to make a spectacle out of going to church these days, we must announce it as if that makes a difference. The rest of the week, we calling out people, running around with a nasty attitude, telling people “we not gone change”, what we “not gone do” and “if people don’t like it they can go to hell” cause “we not Jesus, we human” etc. etc. and at the same time, we’ll turn around and claim we’re loved and favored by God and we love Him sooooooo much. We don’t live the word, oh no not at all….and when someone actually does TRY to live out His word, we must make fun of them, call them Jesus freaks, holier than thou, holy rollers…or we tell them they take this Jesus thang “too serious” and call them judgmental or claim they “think they better than” when they refuse to participate in old things because of their relationship with Christ. Instead of following the example of Christ and those who are trying to do this, we shun them and make them out to be deluded fools who have lost touch with reality…..
We get falling down drunk, kill ourselves with drugs, and sleep around with whoever, whenever, however without a second thought sometimes more than one person at a given time! We break up families and homes; covet other people’s success, blessings, families, careers, etc. We complain, we never have enough, we don’t appreciate stuff and are constantly looking out for “me and mine” EVEN THOUGH…EVEN THOUGH…we KNOW this is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what Christ did when on earth and what He commanded us to do. We even fight and bicker with our families, won’t talk to them, won’t practice forgiveness with them (or anyone for that matter), we hold grudges, cut them off, talk about them and judge them…and in spite of all this, we still get up in church and shout and praise like our hearts are so pure, when we know better.
The church has even become a show! We put on shows, not worship. People promote their churches more than they do the Lord! People serve, praise and worship their pastors much more than they do God. The churches are filled with cliques, slander, backbiting, lying! Pastors getting rich off their flocks, building monumental churches while people in the communities suffer in need…further teaching their flock to do the same thing by preaching all these prosperity messages and leading us away from helping those in need to stockpiling prayers for God to do for us and our families. And we wonder why people don’t readily accept and welcome our Savior into their lives? THEY CAN’T SEE HIM FOR ALL THE FOOLERY OF OUR HUMAN FLESH!
…and the worst of all, we don’t make time for God. A few of us do. A rare few, but most of us spend our days running to and fro doing what we want to accomplish our dreams. We’re not seeking God for His plan because we’re not seeking God at all! We do fly by night devotionals in which we forget what we read as soon as we read it, because we’re rushing through it just to say we did it instead of carving out time in our day to actually give God His due. Everyone wants church quicker, shorter. We “don’t have time” for church services or to listen to sermons, read books, study the bible or even to pray – sincerely. When we do pray, our prayers are self-centered and all about what WE want, what we [think] WE need. Not at all focused on God’s kingdom, His plans for our lives, His wants for us, or His command that we go forth and spread His word and introduce others to Christ, no! We are so consumed with what we WANT from God that we don’t even realize how easily we can become nothing more than common pimps, peddling the word of God in prayer as a means to get what we want. But God says, not so.
God will NOT be mocked. Much of the church is in confusion today because those who make up the church (and some who lead) are not focused on God, but themselves. Just like the Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament day, we’re holding people to the law in one area, but completely ignoring the laws in the other areas. LOVE was the greatest commandment of all the commands given, yet that’s the last commandment we’ll follow. Don’t lie, don’t talk negatively about people, love your enemies, help the poor, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, seek God with your WHOLE heart, don’t straddle the fence between the world and Christ, don’t gossip, don’t revel in doing wrong…all these are also commands…yet, we have NO problem ignoring them as if they don’t exist.
And….as long as we do, God has no problem ignoring our prayers as if they don’t exist. Not because He wants to, simply because He will NOT be mocked. God is not a genie in a bottle who works for US. WE ARE CALLED TO SERVE GOD. We’ve somehow gotten this confused in this age, but God has not.
I will leave you with Isaiah 58 (The Message Bible): [Why] Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground
(God Speaking) 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell My people what’s wrong with their lives; face My family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about Me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people— law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask Me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having Me on their side. But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and You don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and You don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility; to put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims; quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places, firm muscles, and strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build a new, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use My holy day for personal advantage, if you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s Holy Day as a celebration, if you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there— Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! God says so!”