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Why Our Prayers Are Not Answered | Practicing Sin as a Christian

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2022 3:00 am

Why Our Prayers Are Not Answered | Practicing Sin as a Christian

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 15, 2022 3:00 am

Old AM/FM radios had to be tuned by hand. You twisted a dial until you found a station, then you had fine tune it, going back and forth to get the best sound. But it was easy to land on the wrong station. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us fine tune our prayer lives. We’ll see that sin de-tunes our life—it gets us listening to the wrong voices. And when we’re tuned to those voices, God may not hear ours. It’s a message from the series called End of Days.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.

Sign up at harvest.org. If you are practicing sin as a Christian, it will bring your prayer life to a screeching halt. I didn't say if you sin as a Christian, because we all sin. But there's a difference between a Christian who sins and a Christian who is willfully and habitually sinning. Coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how sinful hearts have a hard time successfully communicating with God.

If you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not cure you. Old AM-FM radios had to be tuned by hand. You twisted a dial until you found the station, and then you had to fine-tune it, going back and forth to get the best sound.

But it was easy to land on the wrong station. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us fine-tune our prayer lives. We'll see sin detunes our life, and it gets us listening to the wrong voices. And when we're tuned to those voices, God may not hear ours.

It's a message from the series End of Days. Today I want to talk about prayer, and I want to specifically talk about why our prayers are not answered. And why don't we start with prayer.

Let's pray. Father, as we now look at prayer and we talk about why our prayers are not answered, help us to pay attention. Because we want our prayers heard in heaven. Lord, we want to be in alignment with You. And then Lord, help us to know how to pray more effectively. So we all have our burdens.

We all have our concerns. We all have the things that we pray about. Speak to us through Your Word we ask. In Jesus' name. Amen. Why are our prayers not answered in the affirmative? Five reasons if you're taking notes. The first one is a no-brainer.

Number one. Your prayers are not answered in the affirmative because you don't have a relationship with God. Listen. The promise of answered prayer is not given to every human on earth today. Sure anyone can call upon the name of the Lord. But having a prayer life. Having this fellowship and communion with God is a privilege for the child of God.

In other words I can't just call out to God if I have no relationship with Him and expect Him to respond necessarily. It would be like if I'm at Target and I get hungry for lunch and I walk up to some random woman and say, will you make me lunch? I will probably get thrown out of Target. Maybe I will get arrested.

I don't know. I can't just go up to a stranger and say, will you make me lunch? But I can go up to my wife and say, will you make me lunch? And then she might say, will you go to the market and get some things I need to make you lunch? I can ask that of her and expect her to do it. She can ask that of me and expect me to do it.

But I don't know about you. But whenever I go to the market for my wife I start off with a simple list and it becomes very detailed as I get closer. So it is like I am getting eggs and milk and butter. By the time I get there she has texted me and get this special ingredient that cannot be found anywhere.

And of course I am looking for someone to help me. And then I get that and I finally am at the checkout counter and three more things I have to go get. Right. So anyway you know how that works.

But those are the privileges of relationship you see. I can't just call up somebody I want to call. Oh I want to call up that person and have a conversation with them.

I have to have their phone number. So in the same way God answers our call and hears our prayer because of relationship. If I get a buzz on my phone and I look and it says Kathy Laurie I answer.

If it says Jonathan Laurie I answer. If it is one of my grandkids FaceTiming me to have a random conversation at the worst time of the day I answer. Ok. Why? Because relationship trumps everything. So when you have a relationship with God and you call upon Him He will hear you and He will answer you.

But it starts there. But the number two reason why our prayers are not answered is unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin. Isaiah 59 2 says God speaking, It is your sins that cut you off from Me. Because of your sins I have turned away and I will not listen anymore. Psalm 66 18 says, If you regard iniquity in your heart the Lord will not hear you.

And that word regard means to cling to or hold onto. Listen. If you are practicing sin as a Christian it will bring your prayer life to a screeching halt.

Let me repeat that. If you are practicing, emphasis on that word, sin as a Christian it will bring your prayer life to a screeching halt. I didn't say if you sin as a Christian because we all sin. How many of you have sinned today do you think? You all have.

No you probably have. Some thought something. You know that is the way we roll.

Ok. The Bible says, If you say you have no sin you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you. We sin more than we think we sin. That is why Jesus taught us in the Lord's Prayer to pray, Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

As frequently as we pray give us this day our daily bread. So you are going to sin. But there is a difference between a Christian who sins and a Christian who is willfully and habitually sinning. Without remorse.

Without any plans to stop. Let me illustrate. You might be saying well I love Jesus so much but man I am looking forward to getting drunk tonight. Really. So you are actually planning. Oh yes. Yes. Planning it. Wait a second. What? Oh yes.

I love Jesus so much. I am living with my boyfriend. You know it is a great relationship and we are not married but we have sex and it is all cool.

No. That is not cool. That is habitual willful sin.

I could illustrate it in many ways. If you are sinning and you are a child of God you will not be happy. A true Christian is miserable when they are living in sin and they want to confess that sin. But if you can remain in sin and continue in sin and even plan to sin more without any remorse or any pings of conscience that would actually indicate to me you are not a child of God. And that is because we are told over in 1 John, he that sins is of the devil. And the better translation of that would be he who continuously habitually sins. And so again unconfessed sin can hinder your prayers. So that is why you want to confess your sin. 1 John 1 says, and he will be faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

Number three. Selfishness can hinder our prayers. Selfishness can hinder our prayers. James 4 and 3 says, when you pray you do not receive. And it is because you ask with the wrong motives that you may spend it on your pleasures. It is possible to pray for the right thing with the wrong motive. You say, Lord use me.

I want to be used by you. I want to be someone who speaks out for you. That is a good thing to pray for. But why are you praying that?

Is it because you want people to notice you and applaud you and get more followers on social media or you know be popular. Whatever your motive is. Trust me that is not the right reason to become a leader if God has called you to be. It is not easy to be in a position of leadership.

Trust me when I tell you that. And there is a great responsibility that comes with that as well. That is why the Bible warns don't be a teacher knowing we will receive the greater judgment. It is basically saying don't aspire to this if God has not called you to this. Jim Felchner our campus pastor over at Harvest Kumalani in Maui told me recently that years ago when he was wanting to become a pastor he came to me and said, Greg I think God is calling me to be a pastor. And he says, what you said to me really shocked me. I said, what did I say? He said, you said to me if you would be happy doing anything else don't become a pastor.

My point was simply this. If God has called you to it you must do it. But if He hasn't called you to it then don't do it.

But the point is that we want to ask with the right motive. And a true leader has to first learn to be a good servant. When I was a brand new Christian attending Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa I hadn't even begun speaking yet. I just was fired up in my faith. So I decided to go volunteer my services to Pastor Chuck. Went into his office. I said, hello Pastor Chuck. I attend church like five days a week and I just want to be used by God.

I think God is calling me to preach. And I was hoping Chuck would say something like, well Greg why don't you preach this Sunday or something like that. And Chuck said, well Greg, he looked at me young kid. I had hair back then. Tried to use your imagination.

Blonde hair. He was looking at me and he goes, you know Greg you need to talk to Pastor Romaine. And I didn't know who Pastor Romaine was. And so I went and met Romaine for the first time.

Romaine used to be a drill sergeant in the Marine Corps. So he loved whipping guys like me into shape. So I said, ok I have a job for you to do for God. Excellent. Where shall I preach?

It doesn't involve preaching. It involves this. And he gave me a broom. Go sweep under that tree. Then he gave me a brush. Go clean those toilets. Now why did he do this? Because they wanted free janitorial work. That's why he did it.

And they got it. But I think it was also a way to test me. If I will not be faithful in the little things, why would I expect God to give me greater things to do?

So sometimes selfishness can hinder our prayers. How have these studies in God's word touched your life? If you have a story to share, why not call us and tell us about it? Call 866-871-1144.

That's 866-871-1144. Well Pastor Greg is pointing out the five things that can hinder a successful prayer life. It's from his series called End of Days. Number four, having idols in our life can hinder our prayers. Idols in our life. Ezekiel 14 3 says these leaders have set up idols in their heart and they have embraced things that make them fall into sin.

Why should I listen to their requests? So God is saying if you have an idol in your life I will not hear you. I won't answer your prayers. You say well what does that even mean an idol in my life? I don't carry around some little God that I bow before.

Well don't you? What is an idol? An idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of the true God in your life.

That is why we are told in 1 John little children keep yourselves from idols. An idol can be a car. An idol can be a house. An idol can be your own body. An idol can be a relationship that is more important to you than God. An idol can be your career.

An idol can be some other thing. Think about what you are passionate about. People have passions about a lot of things. Some people are passionate about cars. Cars. Cars. Everything is about cars.

That is ok. Others are passionate. Motorcycles. Motorcycles. Others are passionate about clothes. Clothes. Shopping.

Shopping. Others are passionate. Sports. Sports. Sports. Sports. Some are passionate about checkers. I have actually never met anyone passionate about checkers. Maybe there is someone here. Or whatever it is.

Technology. The list can go on and on. There is nothing wrong with having an excitement and a passion about a certain thing. But if that passion for that thing is greater than your passion for God that my friend is your idol. Keep yourself from these idols.

Your greatest passion should be preserved for Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. Years ago we led a tour to Israel and it was also the footsteps of Paul so we went to some other spots like Rome and Greece. And we went to the ancient city of Ephesus. And if you remember there was an incident in the book of Acts where the Ephesians were worshiping a false goddess.

Diana of the Ephesians. And this was this false goddess that she worshiped also known as Artemis. And so when I was there speaking I wanted to illustrate it so I went down to this little store and they sold the reproductions of Artemis the goddess they worshiped. So I bought one and I was speaking and I said, this is what all the commotion was about. And they held up this little idol.

They worshiped this goddess. And so I did a little teaching and sort of threw it on the ground as a joke just talking about idols and things like that. So it ended up back in my backpack. So we got back in our ship because we were going from port to port on this tour. And I went into my room and I had two of my granddaughters with me and they were playing with the little idol.

Like playing with it like it is a doll giving it a voice. I am like, yeah. So I said, let me have that. I went over to the side of the boat.

I literally threw it off the side of the boat into the ocean. It is an idol. I don't want an idol.

I don't want my grandkids playing with idols. Now I know that seems a little extreme but sometimes you need to take extreme measures. But there might be something like that in your life and you need to just pitch it over to the side and say, I am done with this.

But listen to this. Unforgiveness can hinder your prayers. Unforgiveness can hinder your prayers. Mark 11, 25 Jesus says, when you stand praying, if you are holding anything against anyone forgive him that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Also in Matthew 5, 23 Jesus says, if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar and be reconciled to your brother and sister and then come and offer your gift. So let me ask you this. Is there somebody right now you are bitter toward?

Is there someone right now you just hate? You want to know how you will know if that is true? Their face just jumped into your mind. Am I right? I know who you are thinking about.

I might see it. No it is kidding. I hope my face didn't jump into your mind. But I was like yes. That person. They did this to me. They hurt me. They slandered me. They insulted me. They betrayed me. And I hate them. And you literally sit around and think about ways to get them back. How you can get even. I am telling you right now if you have that attitude toward someone that can hinder your prayer life. Well Craig yeah you know you don't know what they did to me.

No I don't. And they did a horrible thing. That may be true. But you have to understand forgiving someone is not just for their sake. It is for your sake.

You see. As I have often said when you forgive someone you set a prisoner free yourself. Because it is hurting you. It is hurting your relationship with God. Yesterday a couple came up to me and they looked very troubled.

Especially the man. So we are talking and it was kind of surprising. He said, my wife wasn't faithful to me.

Are you his wife? She said yes. Oh wow. Alright. And he says, I can't forgive her.

And so I looked at him and I looked at her and I thought wow. Alright. Well I said, here is what the Bible says. I said the Bible says we should be tenderhearted forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. You may not feel like you can forgive her. But you need to just take a step of obedience to God and forgive her if you feel it or not.

Your emotions will catch up. Just do the right thing. But then I turned to her and I said, are you sorry for this sin?

She said yes. Will you say that to your husband? Apologize.

Tell him you will never do it again. She said it to the husband. I said, will you forgive her? He says yes.

I said, tell her. He says, I forgive you. And all of a sudden tears started coming down his cheek. It was a really amazing moment. Then he kissed her. Which I love that gesture. He kissed her. Seal it with a kiss. And then they walked away hand in hand.

Now you might say now hold on Greg. Don't you know that unfaithfulness is grounds for divorce. That is true. I have to concede that point.

Yes unfaithfulness is grounds for divorce. And it is also grounds for forgiveness. And they chose to forgive.

And I thought it was a beautiful moment. Maybe there is some area in your life that needs to be made right with God. Maybe it is an unconfessed sin.

Something you return to again and again. You were even planning on doing it today. It has got a hold of you. You need to call it what it is. A sin. You need to be sorry for it. And you need to repent of it. For others it might be an idol in your life. Someone. Something. And it is more important to you than God himself. It is time to forsake that idol.

Throw it into the sea if you will. And maybe there are some here that just have bitterness toward someone. Yeah I know. They hurt you. They betrayed you. But this isn't really about them. It is kind of more about you.

Because when you forgive someone you set a prisoner free. Yourself. You need to be free of this. Don't let these things keep you from fellowship with God. So I am going to ask you to take whatever that thing might be.

If there is that thing. And confess that sin. Or let go of that idol.

Or release that resentment. And receive the forgiveness from God at this very moment. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie is helping us release those things that stand in the way of a healthy relationship with God and with others. Those are the things that hinder our prayers. And if you need God's forgiveness we invite you to go to KnowGod.org. There Pastor Greg will help you find that forgiveness from the Lord. That is KnowGod.org.

And then we are excited to make available a new DVD. It is the film called The Jesus Music. We hear contemporary Christian music every day. But it developed during a revival in the late 60's and early 70's called The Jesus Movement. Pastor Greg. It is interesting that the first wave of Christian music was called Jesus music.

That says a lot right there. It was a Jesus movement and it was Jesus music. And then it became contemporary Christian music. But what I love about worship is it is really going back to Jesus. The Jesus Movement is no longer a California fair.

It is a song singing and clapping, full-fledged, old-fashioned revival that's weaving the country. It was quite a thing. The Jesus Movement made the cover of Time Magazine.

That's right. In fact speaking of Time Magazine in the very late 60's they put out a cover story. It had this ominous question on a black background with red letters. Is God dead?

Question mark. But then just a few years later is this vibrant sort of psychedelic design image of Jesus with the words Jesus revolution. What a difference a revival makes. You know it was actually Time Magazine that dubbed it The Jesus Revolution. We called it The Jesus Movement. But they saw it as a revolution.

And you know what? They were right. It was a revolution because it turned things upside down. Lives were changed. Churches were changed. And music was changed. So one of the main expressions of it was in these new songs that were coming from these young men and women who had come to Christ and had their lives transformed.

And so they started putting bands together and next thing you know an album or two are coming out and next thing you know it's like a wave sweeping the nation. Now as mentioned today we call it contemporary Christian music but it started out as simple songs of praise and worship and proclamation written by some gifted forerunners out there that got this ball rolling. And we want to tell you this amazing story of this music that was born out of revival called Jesus Music. In fact that is the title of the resource we want to send you. It's called The Jesus Music produced by the Irwin Brothers from the Kingdom Story Company. You've seen I can only imagine.

I still believe they did those movies and they also did this documentary film. We want to send you a copy of The Jesus Music in DVD, Blu-ray, and a downloadable version for your gift of any size. So whatever you can send us here at Harvest Ministries so we can continue to teach the word of God and preach the gospel here in a new beginning will rush you your copy of The Jesus Music.

So thank you in advance for whatever you can do. So I think you're going to love this. Get your copy soon.

Yeah that's right. Why not call right now? We have a 24-hour phone number 1-800-821-3300 and we'll thank you for your investment right now by sending you The Jesus Music. Again dial 1-800-821-3300 or you can write us at A New Beginning Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together. So join us for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg continues with more insights on seeing our prayers answered. We'll see our communication linked to God is really our lifeline. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-24 07:32:19 / 2023-03-24 07:41:53 / 10

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