The Ignored Prophets, The Ignored Prayer

After yesterday's discussion, I wanted to examine more in my personal study the question, 'What would make a person's prayers or worship ignored?"

I do not think we should use these verses as a weapon to tell others that their prayers are not being heard unless God calls us to do that. They should be a tool for God to use to make our lives more of what He wants them to be. They are included in the Scriptures for a reason.

Do we receive the same cold ear when we live a sinful lifestyle or does the blood of Christ give us permission to continue sinning and be in the presence of God?

Lots of Bible verses because I tried to be thorough. The internet allows that. Here is what I found. If you know of other verses that pertain, feel free to post them in the comments.

(Jer 11:10-14 NASB) "They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers." {11} Therefore thus says the LORD, "Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them. {12} "Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they surely will not save them in the time of their disaster. {13} "For your gods are as many as your cities, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. {14} "Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster."

God will not listen to the houses of Israel and Judah because they broke His covenant. God even goes as far to say that others shouldn't even pray for them. Right now, unless guided otherwise, I am going to always error on the side of praying for people who are lost and depraved. But the houses of Israel and Judah were so far in the God's doghouse that He wouldn't just hear their prayers, but He wouldn't even hear any prayers on their behalf.

(Ezek 8:17-18 NASB) "And He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose. {18} "Therefore, I indeed shall deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor shall I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I shall not listen to them."

God will not listen to the cries of Judah because they have filled their land with violence and provoked Him repeatedly.

(Amos 5:21-24 NASB) ""I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. {22} "Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. {23} "Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. {24} "But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

God hates their festivals. God does not find joy in their gathering together. God will not accept their burnt offerings. He won't even look at their peace offerings. He wants the noise of their songs to be removed. He won't even listen to their instruments. This is some serious stuff. It appears to be happening because they were not being a just and righteous people. If they would do that, then God would love their festivals, delight in their gathering together, accept their offerings, enjoy the sound of their voises and instruments. Until they are righteous and just, He doesn't want to have anything to do with their pretentions of being His people.

(Zec 7:9-14 NASB) "Thus has the LORD of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; {10} and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.' {11} "But they refused to pay attention, and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. {12} "And they made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. {13} "And it came about that just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts; {14} "but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them, so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate."

God stopped listening to Israel and scattered them because they were an injust people, no longer kind and compassionate to one another, oppressed strangers and the poor, and devised evil schemes against one another.

(Deu 1:43-46 NASB) ""So I spoke to you, but you would not listen. Instead you rebelled against the command of the LORD, and acted presumptuously and went up into the hill country. {44} "And the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you, and chased you as bees do, and crushed you from Seir to Hormah. {45} "Then you returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD did not listen to your voice, nor give ear to you. {46} "So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there."

God did not hear their voice because they did not obey him when He spoke to them.

(Mat 23:14 NASB) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation."

The Pharisees are a perfect example of worthless lives that create worthless prayers that God wouldn't hear.

(John 9:31 NASB) ""We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him."

This is the reply of the blind man to the rulers when he was healed. By itself, I wouldn't make it doctrine. Combined with the Old Testament Prophets, I would say that it is probably true.

(1 Pet 3:7-9 NASB) "You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. {8} To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; {9} not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."

A husbands prayers will apparently be hindered if we do not live with their wives in an understanding manner and grant her honor.


In light of all of the other verses, I presume that the opposite is also true. The eyes of the Lord are not on those who do evil, and his ears will not attend to their prayers.

(Mat 21:21-22 NASB) "And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it shall happen. {22} "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.""

A person of faith will have prayers that he receives.

(Jer 18:11-12 NASB) ""So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."' {12} "But they will say, 'It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.'"

Here is the hope for those who fear that their prayers are not being heard. God will hear nay of us in prayer when we reform our ways and deeds. When we turn back from our evil ways, he will be there with open arms. God is a God of grace and forgiveness. We see this constantly throughout the Old Testament. When people came to God with changed lives rather than mere words or songs, he listened to them. Now, I understand the current popular belief that we need to come to God with our unchanged life (ala Nirvana's Come As You Are) and let him help us change it. I don't think this is contrary to that view. God knows people's hearts. He knows when people's hearts are turning to Him. Words, Thoughts, or Actions don't cut the cake. Churches throughout my life have been putting a bigger emphasis on one of these. It is a complete change of one's entire being that is needed - a change of the heart that results in a change of our words, thoughts, and actions. When one's heart changes, God will be there to help everything else to change. He was already the one there trying to get the heart to change.

(Ezek 33:11-20 NASB) ""Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' {12} "And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, 'The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.' {13} "When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. {14} "But when I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, {15} if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he will surely live; he shall not die. {16} "None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he will surely live. {17} "Yet your fellow citizens say, 'The way of the Lord is not right,' when it is their own way that is not right. {18} "When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. {19} "But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. {20} "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways."

God will always be there for those who turn from their own ways to Him. It's only when we realize that we need Him that we will be saved. As long as it is possible for us, we need to make all of our wrongs right. As a matter of fact, I've been meaning to make a small wrong right for many weeks and haven't gotten to it. I'm going to call the police station sometime this week and return a stop sign I was involved in stealing when I was a teen. We cannot be righteous enough on our own. However, that does not mean that we need to not be righteous. God's grace is huge. He is willing to take us back no matter what we have done. All we have to do is turn back to Him.

(Isa 1:11-20 NASB) "What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, And the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. {12} "When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? {13} "Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. {14} "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. {15} "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. {16} "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, {17} Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. {18} "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. {19} "If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; {20} "But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword." Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Again, God will not hear any of their acts of worship. But this one comes with a promise. If we stop persisting in our evil ways and begin to obey God, our sins, though now scarlet, will become white as snow. We need cease to do evil, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow. The life of a follower of God will focus on things that normal people think are foolish.

(James 5:13-18 NASB) "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. {14} Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; {15} and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. {16} Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. {17} Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. {18} And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit."

The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. We need to be righteous people. I need to be a righteous person.

In summary, I hope I receive God's punishment when I sin. It is the only way that I will be able to continue on my journey to be more like Him. If he lets me travel down my wayward ways without any discipline, then I will not know to come back. God's punishment, as long as it isn't his final punishment to us, is actually a blessing that is there to bring us back to him.

So I hope that all of us will be quick to turn back when we are astray. It appears that our prayers depend upon it. God is gracious and will always take us back whenever we turn back to him.

Watch out for the potholes.