A devotion on Proverbs 28.
9 Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law—
even his prayer is detestable.
A lot of people pray. When we pray we expect God to hear and answer. We pray to impact circumstances and turn them a certain direction, sometimes supernaturally. Our prayers can change things. There are prayers that God leans in to hear and answer. And there are prayers he turns his face away from. What makes the difference? Fortunately for us, he does not leave us guessing.
The passage above refers to the praying person whose ear is turned away from hearing God’s word and therefore obeying it. He’s just not into it so he has turned his face to whatever is more interesting or compelling. This person’s attention and affections are not on God or things of him. He despises God, only visiting when it suits him.
- “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
This verse dials in on the matter: the heart. If your will, your intellect, your desires, and your emotions are not in line with God’s will, God’s intellect, God’s desires, and God’s emotions then your heart is far from him. The only way to learn those aspects is in his word. Our daily time in the word is to align our will, our intellect, our desires, and our emotions with his. Others these factors default away from God.
We must submit our will to God and let him have his way with us. Our intellect is the home of numerous executive brain functions such as alertness, planning, problem-solving, self-control, insight, discretion’ initiating, maintaining, and terminating activity; making choices, and so many others. All these small aspects make us who we are and are to be submitted constantly to the Lord. Otherwise, we become soulish and therefore carnal. Our carnal desires and tendencies must also be submitted to the Holy Spirit as we crucify them daily. We then adopt his desires and live on those. Our emotions can drive us like wild waves. His expectation is that we respond emotionally as he would.
2. A secondary feature pertaining to this matter is the ‘fear of the Lord’ which we have discussed extensively this year. The only reason we would not submit our hearts to God is because we despise him. I’ve said before that despising God can range from a mere, “myeh!” attitude towards him all the way to raging fury against him. He does not abide that. So, we see that though on the outside we may appear to be seeking him – with our mouth and lips, by spreading our hands to him, etc., if our hearts aren’t lined up with his, he covers his eyes when we appeal to him.
“Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof” (Proverbs 1:28-30).
3. If we are guilty of breaking any of his laws, we risk not having our prayers heard.
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15).
We are all guilty of breaking his laws. He therefore provides an automatic exit plan for us in confession. That is a prayer of a guilty person that he hears. The confession is that we have not lined up our hearts with his and that we desire to – along with the necessary action.
“If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (I John 1:8-10).
4. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
I would posit that the majority of prayers uttered around the globe and entering heaven are based on selfish desires. We want to be pampered in comfort, we want pleasure, and we want power. We want all this desperately and we want it now. God calls this “asking amiss.” Instead we should pray for submitted hearts, we should pray for others, and we should pray to mature and become like Christ. All other things will be added unto us.
5. When we dishonor our spouse we ‘hinder’ our prayers.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Honor has to do with valuing. It is a holding in the highest esteem. Is that how you think of your spouse? Isn’t it sobering to think that the more we honor them, the more our prayers are heard? God arranges it this way so that I have a dog in the game. It also means I behave a certain way regardless of my spouse and his or her behavior. Oh boy!
6. When we pray for show our prayers aren’t heard
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).
Paul calls us to “pray constantly.” 1 Thess. 5:17. God wants us to pray – all the time. He loves us to communicate with him. But not at the expense of his holiness. We must clean up our prayer life and make it be a worthy sacrifice to a holy and awesome God. He doesn’t care for wordy, eloquent prayers. He wants simple, clean prayers. This means our hearts are to constantly be under the Zahar or surveillance of Holy Spirit so they are constantly aligned with God’s heart. A thousand times a day. Constant submission. Constant communication with the lover of our souls.
In conclusion, enhance your prayer life by aligning your heart (will, intellect, desires, and emotions) with God’s; nurture the fear of the Lord; confess sins you are guilty of; utter prayers that don’t have to do with fulfilling your sinful lusts; honor your spouse; and don’t pray for show. Make today a prayerful day, beloved.