The beginning of this year, 1992, it's called "Talking to God." Now of course arrested my attention when I saw it on a secular newsstand, I wanted to see what Newsweek had to say, they did a article and a poll that was taken. It's called "Talking to God: An Intimate Look at the Way we Pray." And just to give you a hint of what's going on in the article, one of the paragraphs it says, "Prayer requires making time for God. In Atlanta, Tracy Sims Kimbrough, 31, a Baptist; often drops briefly to her knees at the front door before she rushes off to her job as a bakery representative. At 7 in the morning in Chicago. In Chicago, Foston Pupal, 70 years of age prays for twenty minutes while exercising on a stationary bicycle. "I close my door and nobody hears me but God I hope," says Pupal, a Roman Catholic and vice chairman of a savings banks. "If you're not as close to God as you used to be, it's because you've moved not God." Like other devout Musims, Nagii Igram, 53, prays to Allah five times a day often retiring to a clean and quiet place in his carpet store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I don't look for anything miraculous to happen," says Ingram. "The miracle is just being able to speak directly to your Maker." Along with the article came some statistics that I thought you would find interesting. They said in this article that seventy percent of those who believe in God pray daily as do ten percent of those who do not believe in God. Forty-two percent ask for material things when they pray. Ninety-one percent of women pray, eighty-five percent of men pray. (Of course, more women pray than men because they're married to the men who don't pray.) "Most Americans," they continue, "who pray believe that at least some of their prayers have been answered. One man said, 'At times I'm overwhelmed with energy and an overflowing love and at other times prayer seems like a big failure.'"
I heard about a couple who bought a parakeet and the only words the parakeet could say was, "Let's kiss." And a preacher had a parakeet, heard about the other one and suggested that the couple cage their parakeet with his. By the way the preacher's only words that the parakeet could say was, "Let's pray." So they put the birds together and of course the couple's bird on cue said, "Let's kiss." And the preacher's bird said, "Praise God my prayers have been answered."
We all know what it's like to have answers to our prayers, right? Yet there are other times that we know it seems like it doesn't work, it seems like heaven silent but it's brass up there and they bounce off. We've all heard that great old saying "Prayer changes things." And it's true, that's why God gave us that beautiful avenue of communication with him. But there are times when prayer doesn't work. There are times when prayer absolutely are just words that don't do a thing because there are hindrances to prayer.
We're going to cover three of them, there are more and we'll get to them at a later time but there is three of them that we'd like to talk about principally this morning. But I'd like you to look in Isaiah chapter 1 at a few verses. I'm having you turn here because it's an arresting kind of a text. God is speaking to his own people, the ones that he gave all of the rituals, all of the prayers, the ways by which those people could communicate with God. And now God says, "Stop doing it. I won't listen to you." In verse 10 of Isaiah 1 we read, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom, give ear to the law of God you people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me,' says the Lord, 'I've had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or goats. When you come to ________, who has required this from your hand to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices, incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure the sacred meeting.'" Now God gave them the Sabbath, the new moon, the sacred assembly but now he says, "I don't want to hear it. I don't listen." Let's go on, verse 14, "Your new moons, your appointed feasts my soul hates, they're a trouble to me, I'm weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear, your hands are full of blood." Now I take for granted this morning that one of the reasons we are all here is because we want to effectively communicate to God. We don't want there to be a hindrance, and yet there are at least three barriers to prayer, when prayer doesn't work.
First of all, prayer doesn't work when there is the barrier of unconfessed sin. Listen to what David said, he said, "Lord if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." The Lord will not hear if I regard iniquity in my heart. The prophet Micah tell us, "They will cry to the Lord but he will not hear, he will hide his face from them at the time, they have behaved themselves ill in all of their doings." God does not demand that we are sinless before he answers prayer. But deliberately crossing the line and sinning against God and not confessing that sin by repentance breaks fellowship with God. What that means first of all is that for God to answer our prayers we have to be saved. That's the first and obvious implication of this. An unsaved person, that is a person who has not said, "I'm a sinner, Jesus come into my heart, be my Savior, take away all my sins, I live under the blood of the cross." That person's sins are not heard by God. Let me rephrase that, God can hear them but God refuses to listen to them. He's not obligated to answer because the relationship has not been established, there's a barrier of sin. And so we read in the book of Isaiah, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save." Listen to this one, "Nor is his ear too dull to hear." But your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear. What that means is that the very first prayer that a person needs to pray is, "Jesus forgive me. I am a sinner, come into my heart, I want to be a Christian." God never forgives outside of repentance. God doesn't arbitrarily say, "All right, you all blew it, but what's new, you're all forgiven." Until there is repentance there is no forgiveness. There must be a turning point. We call that conversion. I hear that Madonna before each of her concerts grabs her group together, holds hands and prays. Yet she is lewd, outwardly immoral, and in the Arsenial Hall show she even wore her Satan ring that she alluded to. And yet she'll address God and pray before, those prayers do no good. God can hear them but he doesn't listen to them because sin has separated between that person and God. You know I think we shouldn't leave it at that, I think you ought to write Madonna down on your prayer list. Instead of going, "Guy, she does..." Pray for her. Watch God do a work in her life. She could be singing for Jesus soon. It would be out of sight, have her come and share.
Also, Christians can pray ineffective prayers. In verse 15, God says, "When you spread out your hands," which they would do in the temple for their sacrifices, "I will hide my eyes from you," speaking to his own people. Even though you make many prayers I will not hear because your hands are full of blood. Now Israel was going through the motion, they had all the rituals and boy, did they have beautiful rituals. The temple was adorned with the rituals and the ceremonies of Israel. And yet God says, "It's all a waste of time. I won't listen to you. Your prayers sound great, you've got your hands raised, you look really spiffy on the outside." But to them prayer was a matter of art, to God it was a matter of the heart, and this prayer of repentance must be prayed.
So look at verse 16, the solution is given, "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil." There was one time an elderly gentleman who walked with God for many years who was a codfish distributor in Boston. He was persuaded by two other fellas to come into business together and sort of monopolize the fishing industry on the eastern seaboard enabling them to raise the price of fish. So he did it, thought it was a good deal, they bought everybody out, they raised the price, and everything was well for a while until he heard some pretty distressing news. He read in the morning paper that the poor people of Boston who depended on codfish as part of their diet couldn't afford the prices. It struck his conscience. But he thought, "Oh you know, this stuff happens." But he just went on. He said one morning as he went to prayer all he could do was weep. And so he went to his two colleagues and he said, "I cannot afford to do anything which interferes with my devotions. This morning when I tried to pray there seemed to be a mountain of codfish before me high enough to shut out the throne of God. As a result, I could not make contact with heaven. I realize now that I have been displeasing to the Lord by not loving my neighbor as myself. So from now on count me out." Sin separated and he knew it. This is especially an important principle to husbands because husbands are leaders of the home. And it seems that the scripture says that if a husband is not treating his wife with respect and consideration, his prayers are hindered and God is not obligated to listen to him. For we read in the scripture, in I Peter, he says, "Husbands, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." One commentator said regarding this, "The size of the injured wife forms a barrier between the prayers of the husband and the ears of God."
There's a great, actually there's several great models of prayers in the scripture. One of them is found in the book of Ezra given by Ezra. He comes back from captivity, a whole bunch of people come, rebuild the temple, they're all excited, they worship. But the people of Israel and the priests started intermarrying with the godless people of the land. Ezra could have got real angry, but instead he came before the Lord, even though he personally didn't involve himself in the sin. And listen to what he said. He said, "Oh my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to even lift my face to you because our sins are higher than our heads, our guilt has reached to the heavens. Oh Lord God of Israel, you are righteous and here we are before you in our guilt, though because not one of us can stand in your presence." By his humility he placed himself on praying ground enabling himself to ask and receive from the Lord. I know a lot of Christians say, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, I claim that promise." But if you're living a life of disobedience it won't work. Sin separates between you and your God.
Jesus told a parable, actually I'd just like you to look at it, turn with me (keeping a marker in Isaiah 1) over to Luke the 18th chapter. Luke chapter 18, Jsus tells a parable. In verse 9 of Luke 18 he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others. Two men," he said, "went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself." That's a giveaway right there, he didn't pray to God, he prayed with himself. You know some people though they use the name of God, they're not really talking to God, they're reflecting their own thoughts out loud. And sometimes people, instead of talking to God are talking to other people to manipulate them by using the name of God in prayer. And we read in verse 1, "The Pharisee stood, prayed thus with himself, 'God I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.'" Now history tells us that often Pharisees would pray out loud. Imagine how that poor tax collector felt. It's a dirty thing when you pray with somebody else and out loud you pray directionally, you pray against them. "Father, we just exalt your name, and we thank you. And of course Lord, John and I just had an argument and we want to forgive each other. But Lord I think he knows by now that I'm right and that he needs to repent of his sin." Oh, that's very dirty and I think God just says, "I'm not going to listen to that one. Your sins have separated."
Verse 12, he brags, "I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess." And the tax collector standing afar off in humility would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven." Sounds like Ezra's prayer. "But he beat his breast saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'" Literally, atone for my sin. You see, that's the first prayer a human being needs to pray, "Atone for my sin." Notice what Jesus says, "I tell you this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." I want to read that in another translation, the Amplified Bible, "I tell you this man went away justified, forgiven, and made upright in right standing with God." Now the relationship is established, he is in right standing with God. The barrier of sin has been removed because he said in humility, "Forgive me of my sin."
So first of all prayer does not work when there is unconfessed sin. Secondly, prayer doesn't work when there is unforgiveness in your heart. Would you look back at Isaiah chapter 1, where we started. In verse 17 there's a series of commands, "Learn to good, seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. In those days, one of the reasons God was indicting them is that they were not seeking justice but revenge. They did not forgive when somebody oppressed them, they just went out and tried to overoppress other people. It ws a dog eat dog atmosphere in Israel. There was unforgiveness in their hearts.
Folks, forgiveness is not an elective for a Christian, it's a required subject. But we all know that the exams are tough to take, those final exams. We all know people, we've been in situations where people have just el creepo. And because of that incessant rubbing in the relationship, it's very difficult to forgive. It's very hard. But that unforgiveness can put up a barrier in our relationship to God, where God doesn't hear.
A little boy ws being tucked into bed by his mom and before bedtime he and his brother had a fight. His brother poked him in the eye with a stick. Of course tears followed, he became very angry but as little Jimmy was being tucked into bed, Mommy said, "Now Jimmy, you're going to have to forgive your brother before you go to bed. You can't go to sleep with unforgiveness in your heart. Jimmy thought a few seconds and he said, "All right Mom, I'll forgive him tonight but if I don't die before I wake, he better watch out in the morning."
It's tough to do it. It is important that we get our bearings on this issue. There's two types of forgiveness and they relate to each other. There is vertical forgiveness and there is horizontal forgiveness. Vertical forgiveness is God forgiving us, it's our relationship with him. Horizontal forgiveness is where we forgive others and others forgive us. Horizontal forgiveness is related to that which is vertical. We forgive others, why? Because God forgave us and we didn't deserve to be forgiven. We haven't earned our salvation, in mercy we cried out to God, for mercy, for grace and he forgave us. The moment we said, "God, I'm a sinner, forgive me, may the blood of your son cleanse my heart." AT that moment we became justified and forgiven of all of our sins. And we love that part. That part's great, the vertical. But now the horizontal's a little more difficult. But you can't walk as a Christian very long without coming to grips with this issue. One relates to the other, they're intertwined. Here's the general principle, it's found in the book of Ephesians chapter 4, Paul says, "Let all bitterness (got any of that?) wrath, anger (got some of that), clamor, evil speaking be put away from you, and all malice and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ forgave you." Do you see the relationship? We forgive horizontally just as God vertically forgave us.
Peter walked up to Jesus one time and he was a little bit perplexed at this whole issue of forgiveness, Jesus had been talking about it. He said, "All right, Jesus, how often should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Seven times?" And he was being generous, the rabbis taught you forgive three times. Somebody sins against you, forgive them. Somebody does it again, forgive them twice. Somebody does it again, forgive them three times. Fourth time, you're not obliged by God's law to forgive, that's what they taught. So Peter felt very generous, how about seven times? Probably all the disciples went, "Wow, pretty good." Jesus said, "Not seven times Peter, seven times seventy." Now I can picture old Peter, "Let's see I'm not good at my math but what is that? Four hundred and ninety times?" The idea was not a number, it was indefinite, if you can forgive four hundred and ninety times, you can do it four ninety-one. And so then Jesus gave a story. He said, "There was a king, he had a servant. The servant owed him millions and millions and millions of dollars. And he came before the king and the king wiped out his debt, he said, 'You don't owe me a thing.' It required infinite forgiveness because of the kind of debt. The man who was forgiven went to a guy who owed him a few hundred bucks, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and said, 'You pay me back or you're toast' (I'm paraphrasing this). And the guy pleaded with him, 'Please, please, forgive my debt, I'll pay it back.' 'No, if you don't pay it back I'm going to get you.'" Jesuc then gave application. He said, "Then his master after he called to him and said to him, 'You wicked servant. I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant as I had pity on you.' And his master was angry delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him. (Listen to this, we don't underline this part) So my heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses." There's a few lessons built into that: Number one, to not forgive is to be a hypocrite. If you're holding a grudge against someone today and you refuse to forgive them, you are a hypocrite because God forgave you something you could never pay. Number two, to refuse to forgive hurts you. Jesus said, "My father will hand you over to the torturers." I don't think that means that if you refuse to forgive you're going to be eternally condemned in hell, I think the idea is is that when you forgive it shows that you're a child of God, if you refuse to forgive, you will handed in this life over to torturers like this man was. Torturous thoughts, the malice and grief htat you build up can destroy you. You can simmer at night as you think about hat person who wronged you, a parent who didn't give you the right fair share in life and you're angry. How about an ex-spouse or a friend who ripped you off? I have met tortured miserable people because they refuse to forgive. The third lesson built into this is that unforgiveness not only shows that we're hypocrites, not only hurts us but hinders our communication with God, it stops it. Jesus said when he taught the disciples to pray that we should say, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." He went on to say, "If you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive you. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you yours.
There was a time when a guy in a crowd interrupted Jesus with a request, with a prayer. He said, "Lord, tell my brother to split our inheritance." Jesus said, "Who made me to be an arbitrator over you?" And when speaking of the whole issue of forgiveness, Jesus said, "When you go and you bring your gift before the altar, you're going to go worship God in the temple, you've got your gift and you're acting very holy and pious and you're bringing your gift down and you have a good heart but all of a sudden, you recognize in your mind that there's somebody that you're not reconciled to, a brother or a sister, there's unforgiveness. Jesus said, 'Leave your gift there. Stop. Don't pray. Leave it. Go reconcile with your brother, then come and offer your gift. But we go first to that brother and then to the Lord.
There was a plantation owner in the south who lived in Virginia. He owned many slaves and he saw one of his slaves one day sitting in the corner reading his Bible. It angered the owner, he had him whipped, beaten, and put in a confinement, a shed during the day, bound with ropes. Later on he was walking through his field, stopped by the shed because he heard a voice. And he went closer and he heard that godly black man praying, "God please forgive the sins of my white master." And he heard the kind of prayer for forgiveness instead of animosity. Instead of saying, "God, get him!" "Forgive him." It so touched his heart that eventually that slave owner became a Christian.
If your prayers are not answered, it's time to search hearts. If you have a grudge, bitterness against somebody, how can you tell if you have an unforgiving spirit? A couple of different ways: by what you say number one. When somebody's name comes up in a conversation, do you jump in quickly, you can't wait to be involved in this one. "Well I've got some things to tell you about him or her." Then you have an unforgiving heart and that could be why your prayers bounce off the ceiling and die a slow death in the corner. Number two, you can tell if you have an unforgiving heart by your thought life. A lot of people are able to bridle their tongue but if they could see our hearts it would be embarrassing. What we just read in Ephesians chapter 4, he says 'Put away malice,' which means evil thinking, those simmering thoughts about another person.
So prayer doesn't work, number one when there is a barrier of unconfessed sin. Number two when there's a barrier of an unforgiving spirit. Number three prayer does not work when there's a barrier of selfishness in our prayers. Again I refere you to Isaiah chapter 1, in verse 17, look at the end of that. God says, "Plead for the widow. The children of Israel were only pleading for themselves. They were religiously oppressing other people, praying only selfishly for themselves. Now you might be interested to know that the Jews when they were right with God believed that a true prayer was an unselfish prayer. And yet in the time of falling away they were praying very selfishly. But a Jew believed that if you really come before God and it's a true prayer, it will be unselfish, that is you won't pray just for yourself but for the good of the whole. And so the rabbis had an interesting prayer, listen to this. They would get up and they would, during the rainy season of Israel, the rabbis would say, "Dear Lord, hear not the prayers of the traveler." Do you know what that means/ Travelers when going through Israel would get up in the morning and say, "God, give me a sunny day, don't let it rain. Give me traveling mercies." The rabbi said, "Lord, don't listen to his prayer. We need rain for our crops. Don't listen to the prayer of one man at the expense of the whole nation." Hear not the prayer of the traveler, the Jews always believed that prayer should be a corporate thing for the good of the whole body and for the glory of God. And selfish prayers can be hindrance. I'd like you to turn to James chapter 4, some of you knew I was heading there. James chapter 4, James is writing to a group of people who forgot what Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you, they were seeking selfishly things for themselves. It led to fights and wars among them and it even came into their prayer life. Now it is human nature (as you're turning there finding your place) to pray selfishly. It's like the teenage girl who recognized that most of her prayers were filled with selfish asking. So she said, "Lord, I'm not going to pray a thing for myself today," and so she prayed for other people. But at the end of her prayer, she said, "Oh by the way Lord would you please bless my mom with a handsome son-in-law. In Jesus' name." It's hard to get out of that mode. Look at James chapter 4, "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust, you do not have; you murder and covet and you cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you do not have because you don't ask." Look at verse 3, this is the one I want to draw your attention to, "You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss that you may spend it on your own pleasures." You see the word pleasures? It's the Greek word hedoni where we get the word hedonism. When you pray you are asking or claiming something only for your benefit, not for the glory of God so that you might wastefully, selfishly consume it on yourself. And you're asking, according to him, amiss. Often when we pray we are guilty of putting first things last and last things first. We pray only for the physical and we neglect the soul. C.S. Lewis reminds us that when we seek second things instead of first things we get neither. But when you put first things first, you'll get both. That's what Jesus said, if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, God will take care of you. "Oh, but I can't seek God first, I'm too busy in my business and I've got a lot of stuff going on, I don't have time for God." Fine, you'll be running around like a chicken with your head cut off the rest of your life. But if you say, "God, my priorities are you, your kingdom, your righteousness, you've got a plan. God said that he would take care of you if that is your priority. And that ws the model that Jesus gave us, wasn't it when he taught us how to pray? The disciples said, "Lord teach us to pray." Jesus didn't say, "Okay, when you pray, say gimme gimme gimme. Me, me, me." No, he said, "First of all there is the relationshipin prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, praise the Lord."
Secondly, after responsibility, there should be responsibility, after relationship there's responsibility. You don't say, "Lord, hallowed be your name, my kingdom come, help me, here's my request. Butt hen there's the responsibility: your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And then finally requests. Relationship, responsibility, requests. "Give us this day our daily bread, lead us not into temptation" and so forth. Requests are after our responsibility and our relationship in prayer. See, as Christians our value systems should have changed by now. Our first thought should be the expansion of the kingdom of God and the spread of his righteousness on the earth. And God gave us a great model and a great principle, "if you seek first that I'll take care of you, I'll add all of these other things to you. I'll make sure that your life is full and taken care of. That doesn't mean that God will always give us what we ask because God knows what we need. "Oh God, please give this to me, I need it." God's saying, "You don't need it, you'll live." "Oh no, you don't understand, I mean I really need this." "I'm not going to give it to you, you don't need it. It's not for your highest good and it's not for my glory." And so often we can pray but we can pray amiss. Do you remember the legend of one of the Fergian kings named Midas? All of us have heard this story. Midas because he performed benevolent acts was granted anything he wished from the gods, what did he ask for? (It wasn't a muffler shop). He said, "I want whatever I touch to turn to gold." And he got his request and at first he thought it was great, you touch something-gold, all right. Gold. Until he discovered that absolutely everything he touched turned to gold, even food. The guy couldn't eat. He realized that it was a curse and that he shouldn't have been granted his request. Well, you serve a heavenly Father who doesn't give you everything you ask for. "Lord, I claim this, I want it to turn to..." NO, it'll ruin you. And it could ruin other people. So we can ask and we can ask amiss and perhaps that's part of the problem. God does not give us those things that we selfishly ask for. A couple examples, in Psalm 18 David is praying to God, he's being chased by the enemies of David, Saul and his men. Saul and his men are trying to kill David and they even pray to God to find David. Listen to what David says, "They cry to you but there's none to save them. They cry to the Lord but he did not answer." That could happen to Christians, that can happen to Christians, like the group of exclusive Christians who thought that they were the holy ones and they met in an auditorium and had a banner out front that said, "Jesus only." A wind came by and blew the first three letters off, what did it read? Us only. Our prayers are often like, we say Jesus only but it's us only.
There can sometimes be clutter in our communication with God. If there's clutter, remove it. If there's a clutter of unconfessed sin, confess it. If you have an unforgiving heart, don't hold a grudge, it'll eat you up and your prayers will bounce off the ceiling. If you're praying selfishly, ask God to realign your thoughts to build up his kingdom, not your own. There are times when prayer doesn't work. God gave us prayer that we might be effective in it, but there are times when it is ineffective.
Back in 1945, the Navy tried ot invent the first digital computer. As they were getting the thing operational, now how big do you think the first computer was? It wasn't a laptop, it was a huge room filled with all of these mechanical devices making connections. They got this thing working and it was tweaked just right but it suddenly broke down. They tried to find the problem, couldn't do it. Searched, couldn't find it, til finally deep inside the heart of the computer a moth had gotten stuck between two contacts. That's where we get the whole idea of 'there's bugs in the system that need to be worked out.' They pulled the moth out, cleaned up the contacts and the thing worked. There could be moths, bugs, in your system of communication with God. Ever picked up a phone line long distance, it's not the right carrier and you get static instead of a smooth clean voice. If there's sin, get rid of it, confess it. If you're taking the name of the Lord but living a disobedient lifestyle, God will not hear you. God wants to hear you and so he says to the children of Israel a couple verses after that, "Come now, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, I'll make them white as snow." You come to the Lord, you ask him to take your life and cleanse you of sin. And when you pray, get rid of bitterness, forgive.
Heavenly Father, you've given us a tremendous advantage of being able to talk to you, knowing that when we talk to you like we're doing right at this very moment, we're not just mouthing words into thin air butt hat the ears of God are open unto the cry of the righteous. We're righteous because of the blood of Jesus. And yet there are times when, because of unconfessed sin in our life, that attitude of rebelliousness, that you do not hear, you do not listen. I pray Father that if there's something that stands in our way we would bring it to the foot of the cross this morning. And Father I also pray that you'd help us to forgive even as God forgave us. And Lord, I pray that our prayer life would take on new meaning as we seek first your kingdom. Praying for things that would help everyone. And seek first your kingdom knowing that you'll take care of us, all these things will be added to us. And so I pray Lord, more and more we'd see answers to our prayers as we come before you with a clean heart. Thank you for your provision. In Jesus' name. Amen.