Summary: Sin can create a "dead zone" where our calls to God will not be answered. Find out what they are, and how we can move out of the zone of unanswerable prayer.
OPEN: About 3 years ago Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had an idea! He was eager to get in touch with the people of his country so he gave out his personal cell phone number during a speech and urged Indonesian people to contact him directly with any complaints about the government’s administration.
The Indonesian people took him at his word.
Over the next four days, his phone line crashed repeatedly as constituents had sent over 15,000 text messages and thousands of phone calls.
(www.channelnewsasis.com, Indonesian President Creates New Hotline After Cell Phone Crashed June 16, 2005)
APPLY: With so many people trying to contact President Yudhoyono it’s little wonder his phone line crashed. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to answer their pleas… it was simply that he couldn’t.
The system broke down.
And when the system broke down - no one could contact him.
Their calls went unanswered
The past couple of weeks we’ve been dealing with prayer.
The first week we dealt with Outgoing calls: How to make our prayers go out to God.
Last week we examined IN-coming Calls: How we could rec’ God’s answers to our prayers.
For the next 3 weeks we’re going to deal with “Dropped Calls”
Reasons why our prayers might not be answered.
ILLUS: Scott Meneely – the preacher at the Kewanna Church of Christ - says that he has some problems with his cellular service once in a while. He says there’s an area up his way near St. James Cemetery where he always loses his signal.
He calls it the “Dead Zone”
(Get it? Cemetery – Dead zone).
Isaiah 59 tells us God has no problems answering our prayers
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”
God’s got the best equipment around – He can hear you anytime.
But there is a pesky dead zone.
What dead zone is that?
Well, God says: I can hear you…
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
David said roughly the same thing in Psalms 66:18
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”
Sin in our lives creates a dead zone.
Cherishing sin in my heart cuts off the power of my prayers.
Back in the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve sinned, it seems God and they had conversations just about every day. But when sin entered their lives… that connection was shut down.
Sin separates us from God
It creates a dead zone where He WILL NOT hear us.
What kind of sin would create that dead zone and shut off the power of my prayers?
Well, one example is given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Right after He teaches His followers the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus says:
“…if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
In other words, this is how you should pray
“Our Father who art in Heaven… etc.”
But you need to understand: if you’re not willing to forgive someone who has sinned against you - how well you pray isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good.
In fact, in Mark 11 Jesus again taught that answered prayer and forgiving others are tied together.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.” Mark 11:24-25
Once again, Jesus teaches us answered prayer is closely tied to our determination to forgive others when they have offended us.
Now, why is that?
Why would God tie answered prayer in with whether we forgive others or not?
Well, it’s like this:
God has forgiven you ALL of your sins
Now He expects you to imitate Him
He expects you to deal with the sins of others like He dealt with yours
This isn’t just a suggestion… this is a command.
God EXPECTS us to make this a priority
So, if you want God to answer your prayers then you need to decide that this is IMPORTANT.
And what will happen is this:
If you are willing to make the extra effort to obey Him in this. Then God will make the extra effort to answer your prayers.
But if you refuse to even attempt to forgive others their sins against you…