“The Christian’s trade,” said Martin Luther, “is prayer.” Prayer ought to be to the spiritual aspect of our life what breathing is to the physical. Yet, how often do we find ourselves praying, even desperately, yet our prayers do not seem to avail. Every true Christian longs to have an open line of prayer to God. However, when the line seems to be on hold, it is not wise to blame God, but rather, to inspect what we have allowed into our very own life that has turned the ear of God away.
In Psalms 66, we see the fervent prayer of a desperate man. We see this man declaring all that God had done for his soul. He said, “I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.” We see a humble cry to the Almighty God. However, the psalmist realized the great truth that sin always separates a believer from communion with God. Notice what he says- “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (v. 18). Sin always acts as a barrier between us and God. Sin is what severed our fellowship and reconciliation with God while we were still at enmity with Him. However, even after reconciliation, the believer, though never able to be separated from God eternally, can sever sweet communion and fellowship with God through sin. We must keep short accounts with God and ask for daily cleansing from sin if we desire to have our prayers answered.
This is seen in Ezekiel 20 as well. The Bible states that at a specific time “certain elders of Israel came to enquire of the Lord, and sat before me.” We see here, a desire by these elders to enquire of God. However, God told Ezekiel to “speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye come to enquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be enquired of by you.” Here is an instance whereby the line of communication to God was hindered. In the chapter, God continues on to explain how He had chosen Israel, made them His people, brought them out of the land of Egypt, and commanded them to cast away their idols. But, as we have learned, the people rebelled against God and refused to listen to Him again and again. God continued to spare them and show them mercy for His name’s sake. God’s refusal to be consulted by the elders of Israel was directly linked to their continued rebellion against Him.
Obedience and prayer always go together. EM Bounds said, “The lack of obedience in our lives breaks down our praying. Quite often, the life is in revolt and this places us where praying is almost impossible, except it be for pardoning mercy.” It’s a simple, yet profound, truth: Sin bars our prayers to God; Obedience opens the line to God.