Myth 4 – Because of my sin, my prayers cannot be heard.
We know in the old covenant, God would only hear prayers if the people repented of their sins and did right.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
These people were under the law. Their sins were not forgiven and God was relating to them under the basis of the law. Notice how when God lead the Israelites out of Egypt, no one died till the the law was given. Even though they complained and murmured, God only blessed them. However, after the law was given, when they complained and murmured God cursed them, because murmuring and complaining is a sin. So you see, under his grace, he did not treat them according to their sins, however when his covenant of law was established, he was obligated to relate to them on the basis of their sin.
Under the new covenant, God has forgiven all our sins, and we have “humbly” received and sought Jesus. We have repented of our unbelief and self-righteousness and have accepted the grace, forgiveness, and righteousness of God. Righteousness that comes as a free gift.
Hebrews 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Psalm 32:2 “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him”
Acts 13:39 “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Romans 5:17 “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”
Romans 1 “1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
Romans 5:20 “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”
Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
God has given you His righteousness and unmerited favor because of what Jesus did for you. He has justified you apart from your performance and not counted your sins against you. Therefore your prayers are powerful and effective. And even when you sin, God’s grace is not hindered but becomes “more abundant!” Does this mean we should sin? By no means! It is no longer in our nature! I want to prove how there is no more separation from the believer towards God.
Hebrews 10 “1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship… 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,for he who promised is faithful.”
You see the veil that separated sinful man from God has been taken down by Christ, so that now we may, “approach the throne of grace in boldness to find help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). This means God gives freely to us apart from our sinfulness.
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Am I encouraging sin? By no means! But I am encouraging your prayers. Even when you have sin in your life, you may boldly approach the throne of grace and receive the answers to your prayers, not based on your own righteousness, but based on the righteousness Christ provides for you. Let me address another verse on this.
1 John 3 “21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
Here I believe he is not saying that our prayers are limited by how good we’ve been, but that we have confidence before God because we know we are his children because we see good deeds in our lives. This is why our hearts don’t condemn us. And we receive when we pray because we are his children. Let me back up and help put this passage in context:
1 John 3 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother…
14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death…
18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
Even when our hearts condemn us when we do wrong we can set it to rest because we know we are children of God because we see his love in our hearts and actions. Therefore we boldly approach him receiving from Him everything as His children. So this passage equates obeying his commands as being children of God. He is not saying if you sin God will not answer. He is saying that if we are children of God we receive anything we ask. And we know we are his children because we obey his commands.
Let’s look at another passage
Acts 3:11 “While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
See here, God did not work the miracle because of their own godliness, he did it to honor what Jesus did.
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
When God does miracles today, unlike the old covenant, he is not waiting for you to repent before he works miracles. But instead, he goes ahead and blesses you on the basis of his son, and his goodness leads you to repentance.
Romans 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
God does not withhold his goodness from you until you repent, he releases it before you repent.
Luke 5:4-10 “4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,“Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.”
So God doesn’t do miracles on the basis of our merits or works, but on the basis of grace, to honor his son!
Galatians 3:5 “So does the one providing you with the Spirit and working miracles among you do this by you doing the works of the Law or by you believing what you heard?”
Myth 4 – I have to pray over and over for God to hear me
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
As some of us have heard, the verb “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” are a greek tense that means to ask and keep on asking. To seek and keep on seeking. Some have concluded from this that God expects you to ask over and over in order to hear you. Let’s look at his in context.
John Sheasby gave a great sermon on this material. John Sheasby’s Site. I’m spreading his message Luke 11 says,
Luke 11 “5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your persistence he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So now let me ask you a question. Are you the friend on the outside having to persist in asking to receive gifts from God or are you one of the children in bed with your father? The friend must persist to receive. The child simply has to ask. I have heard this passage taught as, “You must persist in prayer! If you don’t persist, God won’t hear you.” It seems there is a certain number of times you must pray in order for your prayer to be answered. Let me ask you another question. How many times do you think you must pray in order to be heard?
People pray for the same thing over and over because they think God did not hear them the first time. God does not neglect the prayer for the righteous. He is not deaf, he will answer their prayers. Jesus’s point in this passage was not to say there is a certain number of times you must pray in order for God to hear you. What he is saying is that, if the evil man who cares nothing for the asker will grant him his request because of persistence, how much more so will the good father, who cares deeply for you, grant your request. Even if God didn’t care for you or your prayer He would still answer your request just to get you to stop bugging Him. Jesus is trying to give the people confidence that God will answer their prayer, not to tell them He won’t.
So this “ask” and keep on asking is not talking about praying for the same thing over and over, but to continually come to God with all your prayers because he will keep on answering them. Keep asking God all those things you want or need and He will keep on answering those prayers. He’s not stopping any time soon. Therefore don’t give up on prayer.
Let’s look at another passage.
Luke 18 ” Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
So in this passage Jesus is describing the unjust judge who keeps putting off requests. The comparison is that God is better than the unjust judge. He does not keep putting off his children’s prayers. God sees to it that our prayers are answered quickly. Jesus’s encouragement is not that someone must keep asking for the same thing over and over, but that he should never give up on prayer as a whole. He should pray for many different things and keep expecting God to answer them and quickly. I want to pause on that comment and say, “We don’t earn our prayers through our display of patience, rather we have patience because we have hope! And we have hope because God does not exasperate or discourage his children by taking a long time to answer their prayers!” So realize that long waits are not God’s will. He does not want you to be discouraged with a long wait, He answers quickly. So then have this hope, and be filled with enduring patience and trust. Now let’s get back on subject and finish out this message.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again” (Matthew 6:7).
I’m not against you praying multiple times for the same thing. But don’t put your faith into your many words. Believe God has heard you every time you pray and be confident till He answers by trusting in his Word, “that you will receive.” Put your faith in what scripture says over your experience and you will see scripture fulfilled over your experience. Here is another article of mine about asking. Ask and it will be given to you.
Check out part 3 on prayer.