2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
God sometimes practices tough love. I know He loves me all the time. I know that I can do nothing to separate myself from that love. Yet, that doesn't mean that God will ignore my sins when He is answering my prayers.
Now, let me first say that I am not talking about being perfect before I can pray. If that was true I could never expect God to hear my prayers. I am not perfect but there are times when I want what God wants. Yet, I should expect silence when I set my heart to ignore His will. I simply cannot walk in my sins and expect to walk in His presence.
People have asked me how a non-Christian can pray to receive Christ into his heart if God will not hear the prayers of those whose sins have never been confessed. I tell them that this is what brings salvation. It is recognizing your own sin and knowing that you need a savior. It is committing to compliance with His will. It is the contrite heart that God does not despise. In fact, I believe these prayers make Him smile. They are the reason He sent Jesus to die for us.
We must turn our hearts toward Him to know He has heard our prayers. And God can't be faked out either. I simply cannot tell Him that I want to be compliant when I have no such intentions. He knows my heart. He knows whether or not I am truly confessing my sins or merely reciting them.
On the other hand, we should know that He hears us even when we have no evidence if we truly believe we have turned our hearts toward Him. We should know that the confession of our sins and the desire to have what He wants assures us that He is listening. It may still be that He will refuse to do as we ask but our own hearts will accept His will if we have truly turned our hearts to what He wants.
So, we (and I to be more specific) cannot take prayer lightly. I cannot be cavalier in my asking and this should add expectation to each prayer. Do people really think God is listening when they pray publicly. They should but I find many of them worried what people think of their prayers. Who cares if the prayer was being said to God?
Therefore, I should never think I am praying when I am talking so others can hear me. I must have my heart tuned into His heart. Then, I can expect that the listening God will do great things.
I guess we should all ask ourselves if we think God is listening before we pray. We should ask ourselves why if we don't think so. Then, we should look to see if our own sins are confessed. The latter may even cause us to change what we are praying.