16 Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
As Christians we are to be people who talk to God on a daily basis. To commune with the father. Sometimes my prayers can sound like they can move heaven and other times they seem like they are just bouncing off the the ceiling. So what makes an effective prayer life? I mean some of the most beautiful prayers end up being unanswered. So how can we call on the God of heaven and earth and approach a Holy God?
Prayer is for the believer. It is not for the unbeliever, it’s not for the atheist, it’s not for those who consider themselves good. It’s for those who Call Christ Lord.
The invitation to the Christ-follower
We have an invitation from the Psalmist as he says “Come and hear what the Lord has done” I want to extend the same invitation to you. Come and hear what the Lord has done. We serve an awesome God. He is to be greatly praised because He has done great things. The power of prayer begins with our praise. Actually psalm 66 was written to express thanks to God for deliverance of the people of God to inherit the promised land which would give them freedom from their captives. We have an invitation from the Psalmist to all those who “fear God”. This means that everyone who shows God honor & reverence.
The power of praise
We see here a testimony from the Psalmist as mentions that while he was in the waiting of experiencing freedom and deliverance that praise was ever so on his lips. So why was he so prepared to speak the praise of God. For one, it came from a spirit of thankfulness. He sincerely felt gratitude toward God.
What praising God can do
1.Praise get’s our focus on God and not our problems
It get’s the attention off of us and on to God. It redirects our mind and heart on the goodness of God. It allows us to put our faith into acting by the words that come from our lips.
2.Praise makes the enemy flee. It pushes back the darkness the surrounds, and blocks the attacks and hissing lies over us. Evil will not stick around if we’re praising our God, who will fight our battles for us. In the story of Jehoshaphat, we see God miraculously defeat the enemy, because of the people’s obedience to praise Him.“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” 2 Chron. 20:22
3. Praise speaks life
We all know people who brighten a room when they walk in. Those are the kind of people that we all want to be around. Just talking with them for a few minutes can make you feel better And there are other people who do the exact opposite. You see them coming and you want to hide or at least walk the other way because you know that the negative and critical things that they are going to say will just suck the joy out of your soul.
We need to be people who praise God and not those that tear down his people and creation. The greatest tool Satan has in his shed is the one of slander and gossip because it speaks death instead of life.
The condition of the heart
This brings us to what our psalmist says about what was in his own heart “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” First of all, I want to say what this does not mean…It doesnt mean that we have to be sinless for God to hear our prayers because in 1 John 1:8 it says..”If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Now sin is two-fold. There is original sin in which we inherited at the fall in the garden of Eden and there is also personal sin which is any willful transgression of a KNOWN law of God. What the psalmist hear is referring to is a habitual sin that we have became aware of through his Holy Spirit that we know by the witness of the spirit that we need to repent from. But it’s something that we refuse to let go of. This is something that can really damage our prayer life and relationship with God. When we are in habitual sin then, I believe thats when God will not hear any of our other prayers. The only prayer he becomes concerned with is the confession and repentance of that sin that we hold so dear. It would be like us walking up to someone we know and slapping them in the back of the head and then asking how their day is doing, while ignoring what we just did. There is a conflict in that relationship that needs resolved before it can move on to other things. David said, “If i had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Isaiah wrote “Behold, the LORDS hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have made a seperation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear”. If this sounds like your prayer life then you need to confess from your sin and repent and know that God is just and will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.If I have been dishonest with a friend, it is not very easy for me to talk about anything with him or her. I may be able to force my way through a conversation about the weather, my work or our families. But I do not bring up more personal things. It is only after the air has been cleared between us, after forgiveness has been asked and received, that I am once again able to open up with my friend. It is the same in my relationship with God. If sin keeps me from him, then he is like a stranger and my prayer flows slowly, even though I have believed in Jesus. Instead, I must confess my sin and learn to spend time alone with my heavenly Father. When I do that, my prayer will become the kind of communion that I have in conversation with a close friend.
Praying according to Gods will
In 1 John 5:14-15 it says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.”
This is the kicker. Whatever we ask in prayer has to be according to God’s will. In order for something to be “On earth as it is in heaven” we have to bind our mind to the mind of Christ. We need to be a man or woman after God’s own heart. God wont answer a prayer contrary to His will. If we dont follow God in obedience then we can’t pray “On earth as it is in heaven but, we are really saying “on earth as it is in hell”. The closer we get to God the more he will answer our prayers because his will has become our will.
The condition of Gods ears
The key is that, we as children of God should hate the sin that is in us. We should cry out for deliverance from it and forgiveness for it, and should never surrender to it. We should strive to walk in holiness and sanctification, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and allow the Word of God to enlighten us to every point where we are not like Jesus so that we may grow more like Him every day.1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”Is there any doubt that David was a sinner? Is there any doubt that all of us were sinners, and still are quite often? Not one of us can be called “good” in comparison to our Holy God. And yet David said in Psalms 66:19, “But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.”Even though David was a sinner, and even though we may commit sin, God will still hear our prayer for deliverance, if we desire to get rid of that sin and to repent of it!That’s what I want you to hear. I want you to know that God is not angry with you if you fail. He is not going to turn a deaf ear to your prayer. He has not placed anything between you and Heaven to keep your prayer from reaching to the throne of God. God will hear your prayer. He will hear your cry. He will receive your praise and He will show mercy and grace to you again.