Tuesday, February 1, 2011

God Doesn’t Answer When We Have a Faulty Relationship With God


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by Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Dr. Kroll
 I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. Abraham Lincoln.
Whoever only speaks of God, but never or seldom to God, easily leases body and soul to idols.  Carl F.H. Henry
Why did God create humankind?  Why did God, who needs nothing, bring you and me into this world?  It wasn’t because he was lonely.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have perfect harmony and fellowship with each other.  You and I have little to contribute to divine fellowship.  So why did he crate us?  I believe it was so we could share in the benefits of having a relationship with him.  God created us to glorify him and in so doing to enjoy a relationship with him.
Our first parents enjoyed such a relationship.  God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.  But when they sinned, they put a crimp in that beautiful relationship with God.  As a result our relationship with God has been faulty ever since.  It is only when that relationship is repaired through faith in Jesus Christ that we can truly glorify God as we were created to do.

But the damage done by sin to our vital relationship withy God affects much more than just our walk with him.  It also affects our talk with him.  Because sin erects relational roadblocks between God and us, these road blocks keep us from getting through to God.  When we fail to treat God as he deserves, our communication with God is one for the first casualties of that failure.
What are some of the failures that keep our prayer from being effective?  The Bible identifies many of them, but three that relate directly to God seem to surface regularly:
  1. failure to respect God
  2. failure to abide in Christ
  3. failure to heed God’s Word
Are you having trouble getting answers to your prayers?  If so, examine your relationship with God in these three areas.  If you find your relationship is inadequate, you may have hit on the cause for unanswered prayer in your life.
Failure to Respect God
We all know who God is.  He’s the creator, the Sustainer, the Sovereign God.  He’s the eternal, omniscient, loving Redeemer of mankind.  But when we say all that, it sounds as though what we know about God comes right out of a text book.  Who is God, really?  Reach down deep into your daily experience and identify who God is in your life.
It’s one thing to expound the virtues of God as if you just came out of Theology 101 class.   It’s quite another to see God through the piles of dirty laundry or the mundane sameness of date entry.
What is your relationship with God?  How do you treat him?  If you say you respect him, would he know it from the attitudes and actions of your life today?  If you examined everything in your life for the fingerprints of God, would there be sufficient evidence to prove you have a vibrant relationship with him?
These are tough questions and you may find them difficult to answer.  Sometimes we allow sin to creep into our lives; that’s when our relationship with God is truly tested.  It’s also when we wonder if he is listening to our prayers.

We are not the first to experience this.  The Jews of the Old Testament had the same problem.  Every time Israel caved in to idolatry, they had difficulty getting their prayers answered.
God sent prophet after prophet to warn the Jewish people about their faulty relationship with him.  The list reads like Who’s Who of the Old Testament.

Ezekiel’s Warning
Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon.  The Jews were exiled there as punishment for their idolatry.  From his house along the Kebar River, Ezekiel was taken by a vision to Jerusalem (Ezek.8).    There God showed him the pagan idols and the detestable thing that were going on his sanctuary.
It was then God made this startling statement:  “Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them.  Although they should in my ears, I will not listen to them” (Ez. 8:18).  Imagine.  God told his chosen people that because they had treated him poorly he wouldn’t listen to them.  They should shout right in his ears; it wouldn’t matter.
God hates nothing more than idolatry.  When people, even God’s people give their love and allegiance to anyone or anything other than God, he refuses to hear their prayers.  That’s how deeply a faulty relationship with God affects our ability to get through to him 
Micah’s Warning
Enter the prophet Micah.  He had the same message for Judah. Because God’s people had embraced false prophets, which is a form of idolatry, Micah said, “Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them.  At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done” (Micah 3:4).
Micah used an even stronger word than did Ezekiel for crying unto God.  His verb means to shriek.  Even if the Jews shrieked to God, if they prayed in loud and boisterous terms, that still would be insufficient reason for God to answer them.  In fact, God promised to conceal his face from his people because of their idolatry.
Why?  Because they had been disrespectful to God.  They placed more value on idols than they did in God.  Their faulty relationship with God destroyed their ability to pray in a meaningful and successful way.

Zechariah’s Warning
For Zechariah it was the same story.  He began his prophecy with these words:  “The LORD was very angry with your forefathers.  Therefore tell the people:  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you’
” (Zech. 1:2-3).
Talk about starting off with a bang.  This is high drama.  Jewish idolatry had alienated the people from God.  Their relationship had become faulty, and their respect for Jehovah had fallen to an all-time low.
How did God respond to the idolatry of the Jews?  He said to Zechariah, “ ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen, ‘ says the LORD Almighty”  (Zech. 7:13).
Don’t get the idea that Jehovah is a pouting God, sitting in Heaven playing it for tat.  God’s refusal to hear the prayers of his people was divine judgment, not divine sulking.  
When we treat God poorly, when we are guilty of any form of idolatry, why do we expect him to answer our prayers?  Why should he?  A faulty relationship with God dramatically impacts his willingness to answer when we pray.
Jeremiah’s Warning
Then there was Jeremiah.  Three time he was told to warn God’s people that their idolatry kept them from getting answers to their prayers.
Cover Page
 In Jeremiah 7:16 God said, “So do not pray for this people not offer any plea or petition for them; do not  plead with me. For I will not listen to you.”   Sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it?
Again in Jeremiah 11:14 he said, “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.”  Think about it.  God says he will not even listen, let alone answer.
Once more, this time in Jeremiah 14:12, God said, “though they fast, I will not listen to their cry;  though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.  Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”

At this point you may be saying, “I had no idea verses like these were in the Bible.  I thought God always heard our prayers, even if he didn’t answer them.”  Well, read again.
God’s anger at idolatry was so fierce that he refused to hear the Jews’ prayers just as he refused to accept their offerings.  They had treated God poorly.  What he was looking for was their repentance.  Until that came, there was no use talking to him

Idolatry Today.
Are we any different today? Not much.  Often we are just as idolatrous as Israel was.  We may not fall face down before an idol of stone and treat it with the respect due only to God, but we have the same penchant for idolatry.  We’ll pay for forty dollars for a ticket to a football game and then grip about putting five dollars in the offering plate at church. Isn’t that cherishing football more than we cherish God?  That’s idolatry.
When do you take your break from housework in the afternoon?  Is it at just the right time to watch the soaps or the talk shows?  Do you then rationalize that you don’t have time to prepare a Sunday school lesson so you can’t be a teacher?  Isn’t that cherishing Oprah or Geraldo more than God?  That’s idolatry.  If you can easily justify buying a anew microwave, a new car, or a new VCR but have trouble meeting your pledge to the missions budget at church, haven’t you fallen into a form of idolatry?

Can you see why your prayers may sometimes be ignored by God?  If something is dealing the quality of your relationship with God, until that relationship is repaired, the chances of God hearing your prayers are greatly diminished.

Are you treating God well enough for him to answer your prayers?   A faulty relationship with God will keep him from hearing you just as he refused to hear Israel.  The next time you pray, ask yourself this questions first:  “If I were God and was treated the way I’ve treated him today, would I be inclined to answer my own prayers?”  If you haven’t been treating God with the respect he deserves, start there.  Treat him as if he were the eternal, omniscient, loving Redeemer of mankind.  After all, he is.
If you’re not getting answers to your prayers, check your relationship with God.  If you’ve been a bit idolatrous lately, putting other things or other people ahead of God, why are your surprised when he doesn’t answer?    Right your relationship with God.  Begin to treat him as a supreme being ought to be treated.  Then watch your prayer potency grow.  How you treat God affects how he answers your prayers……..

Failure to Abide in Christ
God has revealed himself to us in several ways.  The two most prominent are through his Son, Jesus Christ—the Living Word—and through the Bible—the written word. Sometimes a ruptured relationship with God most quickly shows up in how we treat his Son or his Word.
 The relationship between God the Father and God the Son was never a faulty one.  They respected each other.  They had unbroken communication, except for those hours on the cross (see Matt.27:46).  Jesus knew that God the Father always heard him when he prayed (John 11:41).  He had no trouble getting answers to his prayers.

If Jesus had God’s ear, why does it sometimes seem that God isn’t listening to us?  Perhaps we fail to maintain the relationship with him that his Son did.   Perhaps we fail to maintain the relationship with his Son that the Father did.  But how do we maintain that relationship?
Shelter and Shadow
Some people only run to Christ when they are in trouble.  You know the kind.  They want to enjoy the ultimate fruit of salvation—eternity in heaven—but for now they want to live life as they please.  They don’t want to remain in Jesus twenty-four hours a day.  They want him only when they need him.  They want to be Sunday-morning Christians.
Remember what the Psalmist said in Psalm 91?  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  If we want to enjoy the shelter of the Most High and the protection of the shadow of the Almighty, we cannot run to him only when we are in trouble.  We must have the mature discipline to live in him, to sojourn with him, to throw our lot in with him.

Our relationship with the Son of God will be faulty as long as we think of it as an on-demand relationship. … How do you treat Jesus? …. Is he your constant shelter and shadow?  Your relationship with him is is the most important relationship you have.  Make sure it’s a good one…..

God’s Best –Seller              
God carefully communicated a message that would save men and women from the devastation of hell and enable them to enjoy his company forever.  He communicated it to some forty authors over more than fifteen hundred years.  He inspired them in such a way that what they wrote accurately reflected what he revealed.  He gave us his written Word—the Holy Bible.

And we bought it, Did we ever buy it.  We bought black ones, red ones, burgundy ones, and denim ones.  Brides bought white ones to carry down the aisle.  Parents bought their children Bibles with cartoons and pictures.  Teens bought their own special editions.  When we got older, some entrepreneurial publisher even printed giant print editions for those of us with failing eyesight.
United States presidents placed their hand on God’s Word when they took the oath of office.   Courtroom witnesses did the same to certify that they would tell nothing but the truth.  The Bible really got around.
We bought Bibles in such quantities that it became the best-seller of all time.  God must have been pleased.  So many people were so interested in what he had to say.

But the Bible is a little like exercise bikes.  A lot of people by them, but few people use them.  Exercise bikes show up in garage sales more often than anything else.  Why?  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (literally).  The same is true with Bibles.
When the number of Bibles printed and purchased is phenomenal, the number of Bibles read and heeded is pitiful.  For many people the Bible has become a family heirloom, a coffee table dust gatherer, or the object of a maddening search on Sunday morning that makes you late for church.

I have often said that if everybody blew the dust off their Bibles at the same time, we’d all be killed in the dust storm.  We have plenty of questions and the Bible has the answers, but we know so very little about the Bible that our questions largely go unanswered.

Faulty Prayer Life
God is very pointed about how failure to heed his Word affects our prayer life, as well as our personal life.  The Book of Proverbs is a collection of moralistic saying written for the most part by King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived.  One of those pointed observations is this:  “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable” (Prov. 28:9).

Just a few pages earlier we thought about God turning a deaf ear to our prayers because we cherished sin in our hearts.  Here the wise man turns the tables.  If we can turn a deaf ear to God and his Word, God finds our prayers “detestable.”  The word means something that is morally disgusting or abominable to God.  

Imagine.  The Bible says if we do not pay attention to God’s law, that is his Word God will find our prayers distasteful, something to be avoided and detested.  Should that say something to us about how we treat the Bible?

Dig for Gold
 Psalm 19:10 says of the words of God,  “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold’ they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.”  Here’s the bottom line.  God’s Word is to be more precious to us than gold.  Since the Bible reveals what’s on God’s mind, and since it and it alone reveals God’s way to heaven,  God anticipates that we will want to read his Word, enjoy it, profit from it, memorize it, live by it, and desire it more than we desire much pure gold.

If you knew there was gold buried in your backyard, would you continue reading this book or would you drop it immediately and go out to dig?  Be honest.  In fact, I I knew there was gold buried in your backyard, I’d be there in a flash myself.

We have no difficulty mustering the desire to dig for gold.  God’s Word should be more precious to us than fine gold, and yet sometimes we show so little interest in it that our prayers suffer as a result we do not treat the Bible well enough for God to answer our prayers.

As an author of dozens of books, the greatest compliment you can pay me is to say you’ve read my books.  You don’t necessarily have to say you enjoyed them; reading them is enough for most authors.
May I remind you that God wrote a book—only one book.  It’s the Bible.  I wonder what you’ll say to him should he ask you at the judgment seat of Christ, “Did you read my book?”  What will you say?  How well are you treating God’s Word?

What‘s a Person to Do?
Much of your success in prayer relates to whether you respect God.  Do you make time for him?   Do you honor him above all else?  If you want God to answer your prayers, show him the respect he deserves.  Place him first in your life.

You must also cultivate a relationship with Christ.  In John 15 Jesus used the metaphor of a vine and its branches to teach his disciples about the importance of a vital relationship with him.  He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remains in me and I in him, he will he will bear much fruits; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  That’s the ultimate expression of relationship.  Do you know what Jesus meant when he spoke of remaining in him? He taught his disciples that they had to come to him and tarry there.  That’s what the Greek word meno means.  Sojourn.  Take up residence.  Live in Christ’s presence and resurrection power.  That’s abiding in Christ.

Having a right relationship with Christ is vital to your prayer life.  Remember Jesus’ words in John 15:7:  “If you remain in me and my words remain in your, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” If you abide in him and make sure his words abide in you, you have the inside track on getting your prayers answered.  It all hinges on your relationship with him.

Not only are you be abide in Christ you are to remain constantly in the Word.  If you want God to answer your prayer, show his Word the respect it deserves.  Spend enough time in it to make notes of what you read.  Marinate your mind in it.  Memorize it.  And most of all, obey it.  Joshua 1:8 reminds us,  “Do not let this Book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  If your prayers don’t seem to be getting through to God, maybe it’s because his Word isn’t getting through to you.
Develop a daily relationship with God through his Son and through his Word, and watch your prayer life take a quantum leap forward. CL
(An adaptation from Dr. Woodrow Kroll's latest Book “When God Doesn’t Answer)
Do you feel as if your prayers are not being heard? 
Do you wonder how God can be silent for so long? 
Are you beginning to doubt that God cares?

In this book, Woodrow Kroll shines light on the complexities of prayer.  He highlights twelve typical attitudes or habits of Christians that keep prayers from being answered or even heard, some of which are:

Faithlessness
Wrong motives
Forgetting to ask
Not being persistent enough
Asking for the wrong things
Cherishing sin.

This book and a CD is available for a  donation of Rupees 125/- (including packing and postage) 
from Good News Broadcasting Society's Office. Order Your Copies Before Stock End.
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