God… and our prayers.
The little verse of Psalm 66:18 teaches us a whole lot about God – and prayer. Just in this tiny verse we see:
“If I regard wickedness in my heart,
The Lord will not hear”
Here it is – said in several different ways (versions):
Psalm 66:18 Amplified Bible (AMP)
If I regard sin and baseness in my heart
[that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it],
The Lord will not hear [me];
Psalm 66:18 King James Version (KJV)
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
Psalm 66:18 Living Bible (TLB)
He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins.
Psalm 66:18 Good News Translation (GNT)
If I had ignored my sins, the Lord would not have listened to me.
I am born again, and God has forgiven me of all my sins. I’m on my way to heaven because I’ve been saved by the Master of the Universe! My salvation is secure in Christ. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. This hope is the anchor of my soul. That’s true.
This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells] – Hebrews 6:19
However, on any given day or moment, if I come to Him in prayer AND am holding a sin, so to speak, or allowing a sin to have a place in my life — then, the Bible tells me: God will not give heed to what I say. My prayer will be unanswered. It will be as if I had said nothing: Because, as I pray, my heart is not right with God. In that case, I might want to get someone else to do my praying for me!
God will not look past my sins on a daily basis as I come to Him in prayer. If I have sin in my conscious thought and am accepting of that, even though I know God disapproves, then… “the Lord will not hear me” when I pray for something. If I ignore the fact that I am harboring sin: “the Lord will not hear me.”
“If I know it is there
and do nothing about it…”
then God “will not hear me.”
Talking to God, what we call “prayer”, does not mean God listens to you! Of course He hears… (He hears all and knows all)… but, any sinfulness can shut us out of His courts and He will not respond to our prayer.
So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart]
Effective Prayer. There are parameters for speaking to God. Effective prayer is just not a “for anyone, anywhere, anyhow you please, business as usual: “I’ll just stop-in and ask God…” type of thing. God is a holy God. And He responds to those who are rightly related and rightly dressed, so to speak – wearing a robe of righteousness, rightly dressed to enter into His Almighty Presence.
Before I pray, I make sure I get into my Righteous Robe, a robe of His righteousness – before I approach God. Otherwise I might as well be blowing smoke! My righteous robe is not of myself. He puts the robe on me when I confess my sinfulness. I stand before God, King of All, not on my face groveling — only because He Himself has declared me His child.
That little verse in the Psalms tells me that IF I come to The King on my own, unclean and “in sin”, then “my audience” before Him is not received. The King will not receive me. He will not hear me. How can a sinful, unrepentant child think himself to be “[earnestly and diligently]” seeking Him“, as Hebrews says here? “He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.”
But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16 King James Version (KJV)
Colossians 3:16 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being]
The prayers of a righteous person are effective. Not so much for someone in sin. You may be a child of the King, but you’ll be out sitting in the hall, so to speak, not given entrance to His Holiness — if you are guarding sin in your life.
Thankfully the psalmist did not stop with verse 18. God does listen to us. He does respond to us. And His response is – with lovingkindness. God cares about us. Really cares.
18 If I regard wickedness in my heart,
The Lord will not hear;
19 But certainly God has heard;
He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer
Nor His lovingkindness from me.
As a follower of Christ, every day in every way — I will act like
“[a prime example
of what He created
to be set apart to Himself
made holy for His divine purposes]”
– James 1:18b
Instead of keeping sin, I want to do as James says here:
- Get rid of sin in my life,
- Prove I really am a follower of Christ by actually actively doing and obeying God’s Way,
- Examine the Bible to know it well – and then actively be faithful to run my life by it.
19 Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];
20 for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].
21 So get rid of all uncleanness and [e]all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].
23 For if anyone only listens to the word [f]without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets [g]what he looked like.
25 But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but [h]an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren).
27 Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world. – James 1:19-27
Sin affects answers to prayer. – Source: Pray Biblically
If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; – Psalm 66:18
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:12
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight. – Proverbs 15:8
The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous. – Proverbs 15:29
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination. – Proverbs 28:9
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. – Isaiah 1:15
23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. – Jeremiah 7: verses 23-24
Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sins?
40 Let us examine and probe our ways,
And let us return to the Lord.
41 We lift up our heart and hands
Toward God in heaven; – Lamentations 3:39-41
Also: Lamentations 3:8;
Word Study: regard Google Dictionary
- consider or think of (someone or something) in a specified way. “she regarded Omaha as her base”
synonyms: consider, look on, view, see, think of, judge, deem, estimate, assess, reckon, adjudge, rate, gauge. “he regarded her coldly”
- *(of a thing) have relation to or connection with; concern.
“if these things regarded only myself, I could stand it with composure”
archaic: pay attention to; heed. “he talked very wisely, but I regarded him not”
noun: regard; plural noun: regards
- attention to or concern for something.
“the court must have regard to the principle of welfare”; “she has no regard for human life”
synonyms: consideration, care, concern, thought, notice, heed, attention
- best wishes (used to express friendliness in greetings, especially at the end of letters).
“Warm regards, Helen”