Isaiah 1.15 observes, when you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. Historically, it is the time when we as a nation turn to God to repent from our sins against Him and to seek His help for our many struggles. President Washington instituted such a day both to beg God’s help for our nation and to thank Him for the help He had already given.
It was president Truman however who signed the bill into law that officially gave us this day of remembrance. Again, it was both a somber day remembering the world and its rebellion against God as evidenced by its most recent world war and a celebration that God had delivered us, this nation, from our enemies.
It is easy enough for us to identify our needs but hard to remember what God has already done for us. We think of prayer as our desperate attempt to get God to move toward us having tried everything else on our own to solve our problems. God views prayer as communication link between His children and Himself. It is our means of relating to Him after having heard from Him through His recorded Word we call the Bible.
God in human form modeled this type of prayer in His daily life so that we would begin to pray as He prayed. His prayers began with this relational component and He taught us to do the same by teaching us to say, ‘our Father, Who are in heaven..’ In today’s verse God reminds us that our approach to Him must consider our behavior first. We can pray any way we wish about whatever we want but the prayers God responds to, the type of prayers God is interested in answering, are those that reflect, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
These are the kinds of prayers God made as a man, Jesus, Who prayed, ‘not My will be done but Your will be done.’ Jesus came to God the Father with clean hands and a pure heart. Because He was obedient in everything His prayers were heard and welcomed. His prayers reflected His objectives; the glory of God on earth forever. While we are to pray for our daily needs, overcoming evil in our lives, forgiveness for those who have sinned against us, we must do so as a people committed to obedience to the will of God.
God is not interested in our complaints or demands of Him to make our lives better. God is not interested in the requests that come from those whose purpose is to please themselves and have their own way. God does not listen to those who do as they please caring little for the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength or loving our neighbor as our self.
God listens to those who make obedience to His commands their purpose, who repent from their failure at having already done so and whose hands are engaged in the work of doing God’s will. God does not exist for our purposes but we exist for His pleasure.
It pleases Him when our prayers are pursuing His agenda with a committed attitude free from the stain of rebellion.