GETTING ANSWERS TO PRAYER PART 3

To get answers to prayer (1) there are things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray; (2) there are things God wants us to do WHEN we pray; and (3) there are things God wants us to do AFTER we pray.

We’re looking at the things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray. We said IF YOU WANT GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS YOU’VE GOT TO BE RIGHT. There are five aspects of being right. (1) In my last post we looked at being right with God. (2) Now, in the second place, we’ve got to be right with people.  

2. YOU’VE GOT TO BE RIGHT WITH PEOPLE

How you treat others has a profound effect on your prayers. IF YOU’RE NOT TREATING PEOPLE RIGHT, DON’T EXPECT GOD TO HEAR OR ANSWER YOUR PRAYER. HE WON’T.

Look at Zechariah 7:9-10 with me: This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  (10)  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. 

What the Lord wanted the Israelites to do wasn’t rocket science. He wasn’t speaking to them in tongues. The people understood full well what God was telling them to do. Start treating people right. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, the immigrants or foreigners living among you, and the poor. Don’t be thinking of bad things that you can do to people. Treat everybody right. Don’t be messing people up.

Well, God’s people didn’t take God’s words to heart. Zechariah 7:11-12 records their stubborn response: Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing.  (12a)  They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by His Spirit through the earlier prophets.

God, in turn, got mad with His people (verse 12b). And in His anger, this is what God did: And it came about that as they would not give ear to his voice, so I would not give ear to their voice, says the Lord of armies (Zechariah 7:13). God, in a word, didn’t listen to, or answer, their prayers.

Isaiah 58 pretty much tells the same story. God’s people were boohooing on God’s shoulders, asking why God wasn’t paying any attention to them even though they were praying, fasting, and seeking His face. They were crying out to Him! But God wasn’t answering! Why not? He told them why in Isaiah 58:3-4, Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.  (4)  Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

God says, Do this. This is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.  (7)  Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help (Isaiah 58:6-7).

And if we do what God says, this is what God does: Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.  (9a)  Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply (Isaiah 58:8-9a).

Harboring unforgiveness and ill feelings towards a person has a hindering effect on our prayers: it’s like stuffing cotton in God’s ears. I love the promise of Mark 11:24, but Jesus quickly follows the promise with a command to forgive if we haven’t done that yet:  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  (25)  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:24-25).

God’s so concerned about how we treat people that even a man’s mistreatment of his wife is a cause for unanswered prayer: Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

Are you beginning to get the drift here? If we’re unforgiving, unloving, abusive, and malicious towards people—towards a person—whether they’re in the family or church, whether they’re a Christian or not; we’re putting ourself in a position where God won’t answer our prayer. GOD DOESN’T ANSWER OUR PRAYER WHEN WE DON’T TREAT PEOPLE RIGHT.

Friends, if you haven’t gotten an answer to prayer, or if your prayers are going unanswered; then it would be worth your while to examine the state of your relationship with people. If there’s  someone  that  you’re  not getting  along  with, someone that you’re harboring bad feelings towards, or someone that you’re hurting; then you’ve found the reason why your prayers aren’t being answered.

YOU HAVE TO TREAT PEOPLE JUSTLY AND RESPECTFULLY IF YOU WANT GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS. If you want God to do you right, you’ve got to do people right. Treat them right first. Then ask God for what you want. That’s how you get answers to prayer.

Coming Up On My Next Blog In This Series. Being righteous. Think you can get answers to prayer without living the right way? Do you seriously think how you live your life doesn’t matter to God or affect His hearing? Wow, are you in for a surprise! Surf on in and God will have your surprise waiting for you.

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