Does God hear your prayers?

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. ~Proverbs 15:8-9 ESV

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure. ~Proverbs 15:26 ESV

The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. ~Proverbs 15:29 ESV

Activating God's FavorThese four verses in Proverbs 15 form a theme of sorts: God is not on the side of people who think or behave wickedly. What does this mean for you? Let’s ponder each of the thoughts expressed here.

According to Proverbs 15, wicked people:

  • offer sacrifices to God, which are rejected
  • make lifestyle choices that disobey and displease God
  • are filled with habitual thoughts that do not honor God
  • are distant from God, who doesn’t listen to their prayers

By contrast, righteous people:

  • pray to the Lord, who accepts and acts upon their petitions
  • pursue a life guided by godly wisdom, which endears them to God
  • can expect God to listen to their prayers

But who is actually righteous? Who can enjoy these benefits? Romans 3:10 says, “as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one…'”

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been redeemed by the death and blood of Jesus. God no longer sees your own righteousness, which scripture describes as “filthy rags.” The Bible teaches that Christians are seen by the Father as clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

All of us were once considered wicked, as described in these verses. But by the grace of God – undeserved favor – he drew you to himself. When you approached the Lord and sincerely asked for forgiveness, you instantly crossed from being one whose sacrifices were rejected to being a person whose prayers are embraced by the Creator.

Quoting from Isaiah 49:8, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2:

for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”

There was a time, not long ago, when the Lord did not listen to you. But your contrition and repentance activated God’s favor on your behalf.

Today is the day of salvation, and God stands ready to listen to you and help you. Do you have friends or family members who God considers to be wicked? As you pray for them today, ask the Lord – who is not willing that any should perish – to lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Good versus evil

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. ~Proverbs 17:15 NASB

justiceThis verse is packed with application for the 21st century Christian. We live in a sinful, fallen world. And we find ourselves living in a culture eager to justify the wicked and condemn the righteous.

We hear unending justification for abortion in our culture, despite it being an evil act of killing unborn babies. There are even voices that claim to speak from within God’s church claiming that abortion is not only justifiable, but actually compassionate and kind. Nonsense. Such claims are lies; nothing more than justification of wickedness.

Crooked politicians have their defenders. There are organizations that exist to justify sexual relations between adults and children. And the list goes on.

Isaiah 5:20 warns that your standards of good and evil must align with those used by the Lord himself:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word “abomination” means abhorrence or disgust. So in plain English, God is disgusted when the wicked are defended, or when the righteous are called evil.

In John 15:18 Jesus tells his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” So if the world condemns you for adhering to the Biblical standards of good and evil, you’re in good company.

Be careful to call good only what God calls good, and call evil only that which God calls evil. Do you know God’s standards well enough to judge fairly and rightly? Only by studying his word will you know the difference.

Does God hear your prayers?

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. ~Proverbs 15:29 HCSB

Does God hear your prayers? Does he really listen when you implore him to act?

According to this verse, the Lord is not interested in responding to entreaties from certain people – “the wicked.” But who are those people?

In Ezekiel 8, God makes a case against Israel, showing the prophet Ezekiel various forms of idolatry in which the people and elders of Israel were involved. “Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them,” the Lord declared in Ezekiel 8:18. Clearly their worship of idols – even in the temple – was infuriating to a jealous God. He wasn’t about to listen to their prayers.

“The wicked,” for the purposes of this teaching, appear to be those who have distanced themselves from the One True Living God.

John chapter 9 tells the story of a man born blind, whose sight was restored by Jesus. In verses 24-34, John records the reaction of the Pharisees to one of Jesus’ miracles:

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

The proud, indignant Pharisees completely missed the fact that this supposedly ignorant beggar understood the scriptures better than they did. In saying, “We know that God does not listen to sinners,” the man was correctly interpreting and applying the meaning of Proverbs 15:29.

Does the Lord hear your prayers? If your relationship with God isn’t good, straighten that out. Confess your sin. Ask him for restoration. Psalm 51:17 promises that God will not turn away from your contrite heart.