READING: Ezekiel 13-15
I wonder what keeps us from receiving answers to our prayers today. We sometimes talk about such causes as enduring doubt (Jms 1:6-8), unconfessed sin (Isa 59:1-2), wrong motives (Jms 4:3), and poor marital relationships (1 Pet 3:7). All of these are recurrent issues, and I suspect we can find in these verses the major obstacles in our life to answered prayer.
On the other hand, God asks of Ezekiel and the exiles an even more fundamental question in today’s reading. Speaking of people who return to idols even after they had been exiled because of their sin, He asked, “These men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?” (Ezek 14:3). The question, of course, is a logical one. If people are turning to false gods who cannot hear and cannot speak, should God allow them to turn to Him at all? If He, the true God, is no better than a second chair god to them, why should He let them come to Him for direction?
Only if they repented of their sin, that is, they responded affirmatively to God’s command, “Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices” (Ezek 14:6), would they have any place to talk with God — and then only because of God’s forgiving grace.
While my idols are not like the idols of the Israelites, I, too, have sometimes placed things and people and goals and dollars before the God who saved me. I pray that I never elevate these idols to a place of permanence, but I can only wonder if even my temporary idolatry has at times cost me answers to prayer. In fact, I’m surprised that God has allowed me to inquire of Him at all.
What I’m learning is that whatever idols might offer me is only temporary and is certainly not worth blocking my prayer channel to God. Nothing should trump a genuine relationship that allows me to talk to and hear from the Sovereign Lord. I do not want to be an idolater who tries to pray; I want to be a prayer warrior who breaks the power of idolatry.
- As we’ve done throughout this year, renounce any idols that might get in the way of your relationship with God.
- Thank Him that He allows you to speak to Him even though none of us is ever worthy.
PRAYER: “God, forgive me for when I sought Your help while still holding on to my idols. Let me come to You today with no idolatrous hindrance in the way.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 16-17