Summary: The point of this study is to see the necessity of obedience in this first matter (they were to do this so as to provide for the Levite, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan of those among them) before a prayer for blessing can be uttered by the Israel
Introduction: Last Wednesday PM we examined what Deut. 26:1-11 teaches. We examined it from the perspective of giving thanks in prayer for all that the Lord has done for us. The Israelites here were to review their past history of how the LORD had rescued them and preserved them and brought them into the fruitful land. When the harvest was taking place, they were to take the first fruits of the land and bring them before the Lord. They were to do this so as to provide for the Levite, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan of those among them. What we studied last week naturally leads us into the study for this PM. The point of this evening’s study is to see the necessity of obedience in this first matter before a prayer for blessing can be uttered by the Israelite. It would have been a senseless exercise in futility for the Israelite to seek a blessing from the LORD if they were not willing to obey the Lord in what He demanded in verses 1-11 of this chapter. Thus, we have before us an excellent example of the necessity of believers today confessing sin to God before coming to Him with requests. This is not just an OT principle but also a NT one as well, and this evening we will examine a number of passages of scripture which show this truth throughout the Word of God.
Prayer is a wonderful privilege, and is guarded from all abuse. There are prerequisites laid out in the Word of God which prove what God considers prayer and what He considers as not prayer. Notice with me what it says in Prov. 10:24 and 15:8 "The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted." "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight." It is quite easy to see from these two verses that not everyone who prays is heard and answered; there are certain prerequisites that must be in place before God considers the request a prayer, and the main one is confessed sin and a right relationship with Him.
I. WHAT GOD’S WORD TEACHES ABOUT OBEDIENCE AND PRAYER
A. Old Testament passages
- Job 27:8,9 "For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?"
Psalm 66:18 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me:"
1 Kings 8:35,36 READ
Proverbs 8:29 "The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous."
Isaiah 1:16-18 READ
Ezekiel 14:1-11 - It is useless to inquire of the Lord if unconfessed and unforsaken sins are buried in their heart such as idolatry. Saul found this out in 1 Sam. 28:6 where it says, "And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets." From this he sought after a witch to bring Samuel back from the dead to tell him what would happen in battle against the Philistines.
Malachi 3:8 - 10 READ This passage goes hand in hand with the passage in Deut. 26:12-15 where we started this PM.
Matt. 5:23,24 READ Yes, this passage does speak of worship, but involved in worship is prayer. Prayer and worship is unacceptable to God when unconfessed sin toward another brother or sister in Christ is left unresolved.
James 4:3-8 READ
1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them accroding to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."
We have been examining a number of different passages of scripture from the OT and the NT which consistently teach that obedience to God is necessary before answers to prayer are going to be forthcoming from God.
1. We each need to consider our own lives and see if we are truly coming to God in prayer with the right attitude and the right relationship. How often are we fooling ourself about God hearing and answering our prayers when sin is lying in our heart and we are unwilling to deal with it?
2. We need to do as the psalmist did and wrote in Psalm 139:23 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
3. We should not despair that God has such stringent guidelines for approaching Him in prayer. We must never forget Who we are speaking to when we pray. He has all rights to demand purity and holiness from us in our approach to Him in prayer. Don’t throw in the towel, so to speak on this, for God is ever willing to forgive those who come to Him in humbleness of heart. Don’t let sin hinder your time with God in prayer - here or anywhere.