Christians know the importance of prayer. That is our way of communicating with our Father. We are able to express our adoration and love for Him; we express our shame and remorse for our sins and ask for forgiveness. We petition Him for our needs, and intercede on behalf of others and on behalf of our world.
When we offer petitions and intercessions, we seek a response from the One to whom we’ve prayed. He could answer in one of many different ways like: okay, no, wait; you got to be kidding, are you okay? or return to the drawing board, etc. Whether we like His answers or not they are still answers; He has clearly communicated His intentions.
Although He loves us and desires to provide for us, the Bible tells us there are times when our prayers don’t make it to his ears. Some of the reasons are:
• Sins: Th e Psalmist says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Psalm 66: 18-19 NIV).
• Lack of faith: “According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29 NIV). “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick well; the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15 NIV).
• Wrong motives: “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:2-3 NIV).
• God’s Will; “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 NIV).
Quite often when we think about repentance, we are referring to committed sins, and we should, but there is more--The sin of omission! That's when we neglect to carry out God’s commands; it affects our relationship with Him the same way our committed sins do. Unfortunately, the sin of omission does not get quite as much attention. God’s response to omissions is the same as to commissions, because both are sins. Let us remind ourselves of some of the times He has expressed concern over omissions.
• “Woe to you teachers . . . you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill . . . But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23 NIV).
• “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this House (the temple) remains a ruin?” (Haggai 1:4). “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, . . . I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me” (Matthew 25:42-43 NIV).
May the Lord make us increasingly aware of the responsibilities we are neglecting, and may we be penitent about them as we should!