The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 28:1-10 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. By the transgression of a land many are its princes, But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures. A poor man who oppresses the lowly Is like a driving rain which leaves no food. Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, But those who keep the law strive with them. Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things. Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than he who is crooked though he be rich. He who keeps the law is a discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father. He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor. He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. He who leads the upright astray in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good.
“I pray every day”.
“Me and God got a thang….we talk all the time”.
How often have we heard this sentiment from young ladies going into the abortion clinic to murder their child? How about the homosexuals at the gay pride rallies wearing their leather chaps gyrating in front of a bunch of children? They claim to speak with God, and say that He approves. Drunks at derby, are very, very strict about their praying: “Oh Lord, please let my horse win”, as they throw back their 10th shot of bourbon in the last half an hour. Surely your coworkers, friends, and extended family are people of prayer. Prayers to Mary, prayer requests for sick loved ones, prayers for a promotion, prayers for kids, prayers for health and wealth. We know that at our core, Americans love to pray: after all, it’s in God we trust. Live a lifestyle of open rebellion against Almighty God, don’t sweat it, ask and ye shall receive. Hate God, His Son, His bride, and the Word? No biggie, seek and you will find. How many people do we know, in every corner of our lives, who reject sound doctrine, yet trust their faithfulness in prayer to leverage God into showing grace? Jesus did say knock, and it will be opened to you. We have loved ones living in fornication. We observe coworkers slandering and backstabbing mercilessly. We look around at the world, and at times, it seems like they are literally trying to rebuild the tower of babble. Yet everywhere we turn, prayer. Our government, which sanctions transgenderism and child sacrifice, frequently holds prayer vigils that sound like the beginning of a bad dad joke: “A Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, and a Wiccan step up to the podium to pray”. People want the benefits of a prayer answering God, however, it must be a god that they can control like a genie in a bottle. No one wants the death to sin and self that a relationship with Him demands. No one wants the God Who said “Be Holy for I am Holy”. Prayer has become the bottle which people stroke to receive their 3 wishes. Our Proverb today tells us that “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination”.
Matthew Henry says this regarding the prayers of the lawless:
It is by the word and prayer that our communion with God is kept up. God speaks to us by his law, and expects we should hear him and heed him; we speak to him by prayer, to which we wait for an answer of peace. How reverent and serious should we be, whenever we are hearing from and speaking to the Lord of glory! If God’s word be not regarded by us, our prayers shall not only not be accepted of God, but they shall be an abomination to him, not only our sacrifices, which were ceremonial appointments, but even our prayers, which are moral duties, and which, when they are put up by the upright, are so much his delight. See Isa. 1:11, Isa. 1:15 . The sinner whose prayers God is thus angry at is one who wilfully and obstinately refuses to obey God’s commandments, who will not so much as give them the hearing, but causes his ear to decline the law, and refuses when God calls; God will therefore justly refuse him when he calls.
Oftentimes it is easy to see how “those people out there” abuse prayer with their open warfare against God. When we observe a person living contrary to sound doctrine and loving it, yet making claims to a rich prayer life, it is easy for us to dismiss them as misguided and proclaim that their prayers are abominable in God’s eyes, and we should do this. What is difficult for us, is to recognize when our own prayers are treading on treacherous ground. Do you approach a Holy God with a flippant attitude? Is there some hidden sin in your life where only God can see, yet you persist in making your requests known to God as if all is well, unrepentant in your sin? In your prayer life, is it “Your will be done Lord”, or “my will be done”? Have your prayers become mechanical, robotic, and rigid, like those of the muslim who must face the exact direction towards Mecca the prescribed number of times per day, or Allah won’t hear? Has your prayer life become a type of formula where if you pray for x + y, then God will grant z? Have your prayers become dissertations in which you seek to lay out before God all the ways you have sought to obey him, thanking him for not making you like other sinners, or do your prayers echo the sentiment of a person crying out “Lord! Be merciful to me a sinner!” It is only the prayer of a person with a broken and contrite heart that God will not despise. Only a person filled with the Holy Spirit can cry out “Abba Father!” Jesus said “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. Keeping His commandments demands that we hide His Word in our heart, and is a sign that we do in fact love God. When we set aside His Law, and seek to use prayer for our own ends, we show that we hate God, and our prayers are abominable in his sight. As we come before a Holy God and lift up prayers to Him, let us do so humbly, soberly, recognizing that He is a Holy God and not to be trifled with. I heard a preacher give a feeble attempt to describe prayer one time, essentially saying “Imagine prayer like this- praying to God is akin to kneeling next to an f4 tornado, thinking that your words of eloquence and your flowery language may shield you from His sight and omniscience. What can you possibly bring to the table that might bend His will to yours? As you kneel there, what can you possibly do to shield yourself from His presence? Everything, especially the lawlessness of your heart, is exposed before Him”. When we come before a Holy God in prayer, we are coming before the creator of the universe, not a figment of our imagination. When we come before the throne in prayer, we come as God’s children, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, as He has seen fit to reveal to us through His Word, or we do not come. Our prayers must issue from a heart of love and obedience to God, or they are abominable in His sight. Let us kneel in prayer.
Heavenly Father, please forgive us for a sinful approach towards You in prayer. We plead with You for mercy and grace through the blood of Your Son, in whom You are well pleased. Heavenly Father, please remember our weak frames of dust this morning. We are often distracted, dejected, and anxious, and forget that we can cry out to You. We frequently stumble into sin and neglect coming to You to be cleansed, because we haven’t hidden Your Words in our hearts. Some of us may be in open rebellion, praying abominable prayers to You and seeking to use You, rather than worshipping You. Father, we deserve nothing but Your wrath, but we beg for mercy and grace. Please create within us clean hearts full of Your Word, and steadfast spirits which cry out to You for mercy. Please illuminate our hearts and minds that we may see how we sin against You in our prayers. For those walking in darkness, we pray you would cause them to be born again that they may cry out Abba Father, calling on the name of the Lord. Father, we thank you for Your Son Jesus, who bore our sins on the cross and makes intercession for us. It’s in His name that we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Isaiah 9:6-7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 12-23-18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.