Sometimes, we pray but God seems silent. Sometimes he chooses to be silent because in his wisdom, he has decided that this is best. Other times though, he is silent because of our own actions or inactions. For example, we pray but it is not from the heart. We only utter words from our head as a sort of routine, which is not at all the kind of effectual and fervent prayer that God is looking for from those he has clothed in his righteousness. There are also times when we pray, asking for things with wrong motives or with selfishness or times where we are not truly interested in having a right relationship with him and of ridding ourselves of the things in our lives that he abhors. We are only interested in getting stuff.

Is this you? Is this me?

This is our opportunity to examine ourselves. Has God seemed silent to our cries and our endless prayers because we are praying with unrepentant, stubborn and self-willed hearts? Have we truly surrendered everything to him in humility and submitted to his Lordship or are we retaining control over certain aspects of our life? Have we been merely praying to him with our lips when in truth and in fact, our hearts are far from him?

In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus stated of what Isaiah had prophesied about the scribes and the Pharisees, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Is this you? Is this me?

God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:

  • “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Prayer alone therefore avails us nothing. Prayer without repentance gets us nowhere. If we are not prepared to turn from our wicked ways, we can utter hundreds of prayers before God but he will not hear and we will remain in our plight. Humbling ourselves and turning from our wicked ways is what genuine repentance calls for and this is what God is looking for.

God wants and deserves exclusive rights over us and everything that pertains to us, where we go, where we work, what we do, how we live, what we wear, how we spend our finances and so on. He wants to be Lord over our mind, over our thoughts, or actions, our decisions, our body, our soul and our spirit. He wants to be Lord over us while we are at Church, while we are at home, at the workplace, on the streets, in our cars, on our beds and on our phones.

He has guaranteed in his Word, that when his people are serious about him and serious about finding him, they will. He knows the hearts of all men and so, he is not impressed with long or loud prayers, nor with prayers with vast use of vocabulary. He is and has always been interested in the state of our heart.

He told Samuel the Prophet, who made the mistake of assessing Eliab based on how he appeared outwardly, “…the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

What then is the state of our heart? Do we approach God with a heart that is broken over our sin or puffed up in pride and self-righteousness? His Word states that a broken and a contrite heart he will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

Do we humble ourselves and confess our sins to him in acknowledgment that we have done wrong and ask for his forgiveness without excuses or do we pretend we haven’t sinned or that it is not quite as bad or harden our hearts to what God has been convicting us of, expecting him to just gloss over our faults and get on with blessing us?

Proverbs 28:9 states, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”

When we think that God is being silent and we are confused as to his will for our lives, the real question to be posed is are we truly seeking him and if we answer yes, then the question that follows is, have we been doing this with all our hearts?

In John 9:31, the man who Jesus healed of his blindness, told the Pharisees, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”

In Psalm 66:18-20, the Psalmist declared:

  • “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”

In 2 Chronicles 15:1-4, it reads:

  • “And the spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.”

In Jeremiah 29:12-14, God told his people through his Prophet:

  • “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord, and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again unto the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

The kind of sincerity, devotion, fervour and commitment that God is looking for when we approach him genuinely in hope of finding him, was demonstrated in the life that king Josiah lived. He was the grandson of king Manasseh, great grandson of king Hezekiah and a descendant of king David.

Although his grandfather did much evil when he reigned as king, Josiah chose to do those things that pleased God, as his great grandfather Hezekiah and ancestor David had aspired to do. He sought to seek the Lord with all his heart, without reservation and he was therefore prepared to forsake anything and everything that God hated and to go the distance with him, nothing that he wanted, being too hard for him to do.

2 Kings 22:2 states that, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left…”

When he heard the Word of God and realized how far off he and his people had departed from his ways, he did not pretend he did not hear it or turn away his ears rebelliously from it. Instead, he repented genuinely before God, in humility, so much so, that God conveyed to him in verse 19:

  • “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof… and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.”

In 2 Kings 23:3-15 and 19-24, it goes on to state of Josiah:

  • “And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
  • And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city…And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
  • Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove…And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem. And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord  your God, as it is written in the book of this covenantMoreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.”

Josiah pursued after God with such singleness of heart, that in verse 25, it states commendably of him:

  • And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”

In conclusion, if we claim to want to know the will of God in any area of our lives and we wish to bring our petitions to him in the hope that he will answer our prayer, we must seek or pursue after him, not in jest and with mere words but with all of our hearts.

This means that we must approach him honestly, sincerely, humbly and with a broken and contrite heart, where we know that we have sinned. We must confess our wrong and forsake it, so that nothing will stand in the way of our relationship with him and our Christian walk. If we approach him with our whole hearts, not holding on to anything that he wants us to let go of but in complete surrender and we truly want to find him, he will reveal himself to us. He will answer us, not necessarily how we hope but as he sees fit, which is best.

(Written on 04th June, 2024)

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