The Bible is very clear on a point we address today. And it’s this one: for our prayers to be answered, we must be obedient to God. That’s right — for our prayers to be answered, we must obey. The point is blunt and pervasive, and you can find it all over the Bible, in texts like Isaiah 1:15–18; John 15:7; 1 John 3:21–23; 1 Peter 3:7, 12; 4:7; James 5:16; and on and on. Okay then, so how holy must I become in order for my prayers to get answered? If you’re paying attention to your Bible, this is a legitimate question, and one Pastor John took up in a sermon over forty years ago. Here he is to explain and to add two more texts into the mix that I didn’t mention.
God said to Solomon, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). And the psalmist confirmed it in his own experience: “I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:17–19). Therefore, I find it taught in the New Testament and the Old Testament that if a child has bad attitudes or misbehaves, God will not give him everything he asks for. In order to have our prayers answered, we must be obedient children.
Now, there are two possible misunderstandings of this, which I want to ward off. Both of them would result in a great diminishing of our joy of faith, and a belittling of God’s mercy.
The rest of this interview can be read/listened to HERE.