Unanswered prayers (3)
The third obstacle to answered prayer is unconfessed sin. After conquering Jericho, the strongest city in the Promised Land, the Israelites were defeated by a handful of soldiers in a small village called Ai. Joshua was devastated by this. He ‘tore his clothes and fell face down to the ground before the ark of the Lord’ (Joshua 7:6 NIVUK). This was his prayer: ‘The other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?’ (v.9 NIV). And here’s God’s response: ‘Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned…That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies’ (v.10-12 NIV). Before going into battle, Joshua had warned the Israelites that anything they took from Jericho that was ‘made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury’ (Joshua 6:19 NLT). But it turned out that Achan, an Israelite soldier, had stolen some of the silver and gold which belonged to God. Until Achan’s sin was revealed, Israel couldn’t win a battle and faced destruction. If we find our prayers aren’t being answered, we need to seriously think if there are any sins we’re hiding. If there are, we need to take some time to confess them to God and bring them into the open before we start to pray and ask for things. ‘If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him’ (1 John 3:21-22 NIV).
Before asking God for anything today, talk to Him about any unconfessed sins in your life. It can be daunting, but remember that He loves you, and He’ll help you overcome any sins you’re struggling with when you bring them into the light.
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