“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Prayer is an effective tool provided for those who are faithful to God and His ways. God has chosen not only to give us the opportunity to approach His throne of grace, but to approach with confidence. The Greek word for confidence carries the idea of freedom of speech. When you submit to God’s will to be cleansed from your sin in baptism, you have “clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and have been given the authority to speak openly to God. Confidence to approach God is given in submission to His will.
But prayer is a privilege not a debt. In other words, God doesn’t owe us His attention. He is the authority of this world (Matthew 28:18) and His will is top priority. Even Jesus, who is our Savior, gave top priority to the Father’s will: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” (John 4:34). This eaenest desire to please God at all costs was the foundation of the Father-Son relationship between Jesus and God. As Jesus set His mind on the will of the Father, God opened His ears to His prayers and He not only heard His prayers, but He answered them.
We want that same kind of attention when we offer prayers to the Almighty God. We know God hears all prayers, but what has priority when God answers them? The writer of the book of Proverbs helps us in this matter: “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). If you want your prayers to be effective you must be willing to know God’s law. Even though we are under a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15), we are still under God’s law (1 Corinthians 9:21). God’s attention goes to those who prove themselves as “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Give your attention to God’s law so that He will direct His attention to your prayers and they will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
Isaiah wrote that God’s ears are not too dull to hear prayers, but he also shows that God chooses not to hear those who serve sin: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). It is not that God desires not to hear, but sin causes a separation between the sinner and God and He cannot tolerate sin. He loves the sinner but hates the sin and those who choose to continue to serve sin rather than God do not love God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NASU). Keeping God’s law is a result of love working in those who receive the greatness of His blessings.
God’s ears are attentive to those who choose to live a life of faith: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). No man is righteous within himself (Romans 3:23), so the righteous man is made righteous through faith in Jesus (Romans 5:19). The prayers of a righteous man come from a man who knows God’s will as the ruling authority in his life (Matthew 7:21). His heart is set on things above rather than the temporary pleasures of this world (Colossians 3:1). If these words don’t describe your faith in God, make the proper adjustments so your prayers will be made effective.