This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. ~Proverbs 28:9
Prayer is part of the lifeblood of the Christian life. Prayer is an act of faith in which we worship and praise God and in which we entrust him with our needs. But there are some prayers that God will not give time, some that he will flat out reject.
To go with prayer, we also must be devoted to God through his word. When Solomon warned against turning away one’s ear from the law, this could be taken in part as civil law, but it more involves God’s commands as he has given them in Scripture (one of which is to obey the civil law, unless it conflicts with God’s commands as supreme).
This proverb isn’t the only place that we see this. In Joshua 7, the army of Israel is defeated in a battle they should have won. The people were in disarray after their defeat because God had promised them victory. So, Joshua prays for the people and God tells him to stop and to go deal with the sin in the camp. A man named Achan had disobeyed God’s command to destroy all the plunder of the city and take none with them. This unfaithfulness caused God to withdraw victory and refuse the prayer.
Then, in Isaiah 1:15, God says to the people that through they make many prayers, he will not listen because of the injustice and sin they had done. And in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter warns husbands that if they mistreat their wives then it will hinder their prayers.
Jesus spoke to this issue from the positive side in John 15:7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus said that answered prayers come from our relationship with him and our investment into his words.
If we neglect God’s word and refuse his commands, then our prayers are not pleasing to him. When we seek to follow God’s word and obey his commands, then he will happily receive our prayers.
So, let our prayers be prayed from a righteous heart—a heart that trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and that seeks to follow him in obedience to his will.