Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sinful Praying - When Praying is Wrong

(Pastor Mike Walls posted this short message on another mailing list earlier this week; prayer is probably the most neglected practice in our Christian walk, so I thought that this post would be interesting for others to read and compare vs. their own private prayer practice. Lord, please teach me how to improve my own prayer life!!!)


Most praying is sinful. No, this is not a typo. The staggering fact is not all prayer is good. Most, if not all, religions embrace a lofty concept of prayer. But prayer, in and of itself, is not necessarily good. Wrong praying is just as sinful as not praying at all.

The lost art of biblical prayer is so rarely practiced that hardly anybody would ever think prayer could be sinful. But the psalmist writes, "How long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?" (Ps. 80:4). Here God was not angry because they didn't pray. God was angry because of the prayer they offered Him. Moreover, David says of the wicked, "Let his prayer become sin" (Ps. 109:7). The true and living God is not pleased with all prayer. He is even angry at some prayers. Let's examine some types of sinful praying.


Many individuals and churches that were once on their faces before God have now turned their backs to God! Such was the case in Ezekiel 8. There were 25 men in the inner court of the Lord's house "with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun" (v. 16). While their bodies were in the inner court of the Lord's house, their hearts were set on idolatry. These men were in the right location, but they were facing the wrong direction. They had turned their backs toward God.

God said to the idolatrous Israelites in Jeremiah 2, "They have turned their back unto me, and not their face" (v. 27). The essence of idolatry is setting one's gaze on something other than God. Such was the case at the foot of Sinai when Israel worshipped the golden calf. Moses' face shone with radiance because he had looked on the glory of God on the mount. In contrast, the calf worshippers turned their backs to God. Lot's wife, in order to look back at Sodom, had to turn her face from the Godward direction and directive. Desiring Sodom rather than God, she was turned to a pillar of salt.

How often do we show much love with our mouths, but our hearts are far from God? Our talk talks and our walk talks, but our walk talks louder than our talk talks! To pray while defying God's commands and ignoring His standards, hoping that God will overlook disobedience, is to turn our backs to God. This is SINFUL PRAYING!


Our Lord denounced the hypocrites who loved to pray "in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men" (Matt. 6:5). Jesus taught that prayer is for the closet (secret place), not the concourse. I wonder if a lot of the praying on the Capitol steps is really more about hoping the television networks will lay down on tape our kneeling frames for the evening broadcasts than prevailing with God?

I have attended very few "Prayer Breakfasts" that were really concerned about making contact with heaven's throne. Most, if not all, were concerned about making a political statement, impressing others with a worthy cause, drawing attention to an agenda, or just plain making a "fair show in the flesh" (Gal. 6:12).

One reason local church prayer meetings have fallen on hard times is because it is impossible to have meaningful public prayer corporately when there is little or no private time of prayer alone. To pray in public while neglecting private prayer is SINFUL PRAYING.


There is a time to pray. There are also times when prayer is sin. Prayer is never a substitute for obedience. Joshua and the elders of Israel were moaning and complaining before God after the Israelites were defeated at Ai. They were putting on quite a show tearing their sackclothes, throwing dust in the air, and griping to God. God broke in on this spectacle and said to Joshua, "Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned" (Josh. 7:10-11).

God's people were defeated because Achan had partaken of the accursed (forbidden) thing. Disobedience in the camp, disobedience in the church, and disobedience in the heart hinder the blessing of God. More prayer was not the remedy on this occassion. Their great need was to get the sin out of the camp!

-Harold Vaughan


Blogger Bro Tim said...

Bro Jim thanks for posting this post. I have never thought about most of these and wow I would have to say I have been guilty in some of this. It gives me something to think about. Also since I know courtney is your daughter I sometimes glance at her posts and some of them our very good. I told respond back most of the time, but it seems like you have a daughter that wants to serve the Lord with all her heart. That is a blessing to know we need more young adults sold out to Christ. Your sons posts also have been a blessing. Just thought I drop a note on those two things. May the Lord bless you till next time.
Bro Tim

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! This is very good and very helpful as well. Thank you for posting this. I sure needed it!!

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Tim and Julie,

Thanks for the kind comments... I do thank the Lord for my children and His working in their hearts....

I appreciate the faithfulness of both of you to check out my blog and leave comments... it's very encouraging to know I have friends!!!

6:55 PM  

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