I attended a Christian high school (we won't go into how many years ago that really was. . . suffice it to say that the earth had cooled, but there were dinosaurs frolicking around) and daily chapel attendance was mandatory. Even Christian teens can have moments when their minds wander to the upcoming Latin test, or what will be for lunch, and I was no exception.
Even so, some of the speakers and their words have stuck with me to this day. One of these was an older preacher, who in his guest sermon, talked about how our prayers "might just be stuck to the ceiling." That we might need to take a shovel and scrape them away . . .
Well, that got my attention, if for no other reason than the vivid images that his words were able to evoke in my mind.
He was talking about how sin blocks our free communication with our Father. That free-flowing, talk-to-you-at-all-times-of-the-day kind of prayer life that is so rich, and so sweet. The kind that brings you the most wonderful peace you have ever experienced.
I'm not sure which scripture he was using for his message -- it might even have been this one -- but that memory came back to me as I read this verse.
You see, God wants to answer our prayers! Look at this verse in Isaiah:
Isaiah 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."Even before our minds can form the request, He is waiting and wanting to answer. That's a promise from a loving, holy God.
But that same loving, holy God must be true to Himself -- check out another verse from the prophet Isaiah:
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your sins have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2And Solomon is drawing another picture for us. Not only are prayers unheard because of sin, but because of stubbornness -- the Bible calls it hardening your heart, or stiffening your neck -- it's rebellion, plain and simple. The verse talks about someone who "turns away his ear from hearing" God's word. Ouch! Someone who looks away because the Word tells her of a sin or a fault that needs to be rooted out? Someone who turns away and doesn't want to hear, because the Spirit will tell her to comfort or encourage that person that she isn't all that fond of?
I wonder if there are any prayers plastered to my ceiling . . . I think I'd better apply the "shovel" of repentance to scrape them down, and start praying again, when I'm right with my Father.