Many people in the world pray but not many people have the assurance that their prayers are being heard and answered. There is an incredible peace when one has the assurance that their prayers are being heard by the Lord and He is answering one’s prayers. Sadly, many people only pray to themselves, like the religious man in the story that Jesus told.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
He wasn’t even praying to the Lord but rather musing to himself and only thinking that he was praying. Often our prayers are more of us thinking to ourselves about a situation rather than truly laying the situation at the feet of Jesus and allowing Him to take care of the matter. We may even be in church and during the prayers our mind is wondering to what we will be doing later on. Neither of these scenarios is true prayer. Prayer is talking to the Lord and He delights in the prayers of His people.
Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
The Lord finds no pleasure in the sacrifices and prayers of the wicked. They are an abomination to Him but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Even more than His hatred of the prayers of the wicked is His hatred of the sacrifices of the wicked when they have evil intentions. Some of the evil intentions may be that we want to look good in the eyes of others or even that we may go to church for the purpose of making business contacts or any other pretentious reason that we may have.
Proverbs 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
No, rather the Lord wants us to humble ourselves before Him that He might have mercy on us, for we are all great sinners and in need of a great Savior. The other man that went to pray at the same time as the religious man was heard for his true piety.
Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Yes, the one who admitted that he was a sinner and asked for God’s mercy was heard and received the mercy he asked for from the Lord. In the same way, the Lord will hear His people when we turn from our wicked ways and we humble ourselves before Him.
II Chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
An excellent example of someone whom the Lord heard was Ezra.
Ezra 10:1 Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.
The Lord will gather His people together when they seek His face and pray to Him. He will draw near to them as they draw near to the Lord. He will hear their prayers and answer them when they truly humble themselves before Him.
James 4:8-10 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.