Today, we continue our message series Prayer That God Answers. In this series, we’ve found several requirements in God’s Word for answered prayer. First of all, what we pray for must be according to God’s will. Secondly, we must pray in faith, without doubting, believing that God can and will answer our prayers. Thirdly, we’ve learned last Sunday that we must pray persistently, until the answer comes.
Today, our message is entitled “Overcome Prayer Barriers.” We’re going to talk about how unconfessed sin in your life can stop your prayers from being answered.
Psalm 66:18 (ESV) If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
To cherish sin is to hang on to it, to not confess it and repent of it. The psalmist writes in this verse, that cherishing sin in your heart breaks your connection with the Lord. He will not listen to prayers of those who cherish sin. Sin throws a switch that controls your relationship with God and blocks your communication with him. Sin blocks both God from hearing your prayers and you hearing from God.
In this message today, we’re going to learn more about the impact of sin on your prayer life, as well as what you can do to restore your prayer relationship with God. Today, we’re going to look at a story from the life of David, the most famous of the kings of Israel in the Old Testament. I’d encourage you to read the whole story this week, found in 2 Samuel 11-12. The story begins with David taking it easy in the palace while his army was out fighting an intense battle.
2 Samuel 11:1 (ESV) In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
David should have been out leading the battle, but he avoided his responsibility and was not doing what God wanted.
2 Samuel 11:2-3 (ESV) It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman.
David, with nothing better to do, noticed Bathsheba bathing and began to lust after her, even though she was married to another man. He brought her into the palace, committed adultery with her and she became pregnant. David had fallen into sin. So we must not …
Proverbs 13:6 (ESV) Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked.
When a person is obeying God and walking in righteousness, they are protected. However, when a person is walking in sin, their protection is removed and evil begins to destroy their life. We’ve already seen in David’s life how laziness led to lust which led to adultery. Now, we’re going to see further evidence that …
2 Samuel 11:14-15 (ESV) In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.”
David had tried various ways to make it appear that Uriah had fathered Bathsheba’s child, but it hadn’t worked out. So, David now made a plan to have Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed in battle, which was murder. Each of David’s sins got progressively worse, one sin led to another. In all this, David had not admitted or confessed his growing sin. He writes about it in …
Psalm 32:3-4 (ESV) For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
David had eliminated Uriah and brought Bathsheba into the palace as one of his wives. But the Bible says that what David had done “displeased the Lord.” So, in 2 Samuel 12, God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David about his sin. He pronounced God’s judgement on David and his family for the rest of his life. The first judgement was that Bathsheba’s child was going to die.
2 Samuel 12:15-16 (ESV) Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.
Despite all David’s fasting and prayers, God did not listen to him and the child died. David’s sin had caused his prayers to go unanswered.
Proverbs 28:9 (ESV) If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
In other words, if a person does not obey God’s instructions in his Word, but rather disobeys, even their prayers are so detestable to God that He doesn’t listen to them. Don’t let sin destroy your life and your prayers.
Now, most people classify sins into little sins and big sins. And most people think that God really doesn’t care about the little sins. However, as we’ve seen, David’s little sins turned into big sins and this happens all the time. Any unconfessed sin will lead to unanswered prayers. Sin is a huge cause of unanswered prayer that most people are unaware of.
Think of your own life. If there any sin that you are cherishing in your heart? Some sin or habit that you don’t want to let go of, even though you know it is wrong. If so, then that sin is causing many of your prayers to go answered. What should you do?
1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When you confess your sin to God, God promises to forgive you. Not only does He forgive you, He cleanses you from the unrighteousness that was contaminating your life. Repentance consists of two steps. The first step is to confess or …
Psalm 32:5 (ESV) I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
In this psalm, David writes how he finally admitted and confessed his multiple sins to the Lord. The opposite of admitting your sin is to cover it up, to God and to yourself. Covering up your sin is denial and leads to bondage and unanswered prayer. Admitting your sin is the first part of repentance, the second is to …
Psalm 51:10-11 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
The whole of Psalm 51 is David’s response to being convicted of his sins through the prophet Nathan. This verse is a request from David to God to cleanse his heart, so that he would not continue to sin. David is asking God to help him turn away from sin and pursue his relationship with God. For sin takes a person out of God’s presence and quenches the Holy Spirit in their life. Restoration from sin comes when you repent by admitting you’ve sinned to God and turning away from it in the future.
What happened to David after he repented of his sin? His relationship with God was restored and God answered his prayers once again. However, there were still consequences to his sin.
Galatians 6:7 (ESV) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
David’s sins were adultery and murder and God’s judgment on his family brought continued adultery and murder on the whole family for the rest of his life. The thought that a person can sin and simply receive forgiveness with no consequences is completely wrong. Every sin has negative consequences, even if forgiven.
Disobedience releases the curses of God’s judgment into your life. On the other hand, obedience to God’s Word releases the blessing of God into your life.
James 5:16 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
We see the steps that we’ve talked about today in this verse. First comes confession of sins, then prayer for others. When your sins are confessed, you’re walking in righteousness as you obey God’s Word. This verse promises that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. Not only does obedience release God’s blessing, you must …
John 14:21 (ESV) Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jesus here tells us that obedience to God’s Word demonstrates our love for Him. Those who don’t obey are demonstrating that they really don’t love Jesus. And Jesus promises that those who obey will be loved by Him and He will reveal Himself to them. In other words, Jesus draws near with His presence to those who love and obey Him. Obedience releases God’s presence into your life and …
1 John 3:21-22 (ESV) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
Let’s look at this verse closely and think about when do our hearts condemn us? When our hearts condemn us is when we feel guilty after we sin. If we’ve sinned, then we do not have confidence or faith with God and we won’t receive what we ask for. But this verse is written in the positive. In order to receive from God anything we ask, we must have confidence in our relationship with God. How can we have confidence with God? By keeping His commands and doing what pleases Him.
Many people think that they have three choices in every situation. Choice one is to obey God. Choice two is to disobey God. And choice three is just to do your own thing, it’s a neutral choice. It’s the choice most people think they make most of the time.
However, according to Scripture you only have two choices, to obey or disobey God. When you choose to do what you want to do, you are actually choosing to disobey God. Obeying God is not just a matter of not doing certain things. Obeying God also is about doing certain things. As we grow in obedience to God and learning to please Him, our prayers will be answered more and more. Obedience releases God’s blessing.
Today, we’ve seen how sin is a major hindrance to our relationship with God and leads to unanswered prayer. If there’s any unconfessed sin in your life, God wants you to repent so that your relationship with Him can be restored The He will once again listen to your prayers. As you walk in obedience to God’s Word, He releases the blessing of His presence and prayer answers into your life. That’s what He wants for all of us.