TO CHEW ON: "When you spread out your hands
I will hide my eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood." Isaiah 1:15
Many books have been written on the subject of prayer, looking at it from many angles. Despite our close inspection and study, we still don't understand how it works exactly. Why, for example, are some prayers answered even as the words exit our lips, while others need the persistence and perseverance of the widow in Jesus' story in Luke 18:1-8?
Though I've heard it said that there are no unanswered prayers, because no and wait are answers too, I'm not content with accepting that as the full picture.
One reason for unanswered prayers is implied in the opening chapter of Isaiah: it may be our fault. "Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear," God says through Isaiah. He gives the reason for His unresponsiveness. In this case it is injustice - "Your hands are full of blood." They were guilty of putting to death (or looking away while others killed for them) people who did not deserve to die.
The Bible gives other reasons for unanswered prayer. Answers may be denied:
- to the disobedient (Deuteronomy 1:43-46).
- to those who hold onto their sin (Psalm 66:18).
- to those living in sin (Micah 3:4).
- to the indifferent (Proverbs 1:25-28).
- to those who refuse to extend mercy (Proverbs 21:13).
- to the stubborn (Zechariah 7:11-14).
- to those who waiver in faith (James 1:5-8).
- to those who are self-seeking (James 4:3).
When the heavens seem like brass and our prayers remain unanswered, maybe we should spend some time searching our own hearts and lives. Perhaps we'll find some of the things listed above plugging the channel to God's flow of grace into our lives.
PRAYER: Dear God, I confess my life contains some of the things on the list above. Help me root them out. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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