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Proverbs 28:9 says “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”  This verse isn’t exactly telling us if we’re “praying right,” rather it is informing us that if we aren’t “living right” our prayers will be an abomination to God.  We may be saying all the “right words” and we may even be expressing them with reverence, yet if we are not listening to and obeying God’s Word, He won’t be listening to us.  The Lord hates hypocrisy and as a result, He hates the prayers of a hypocrite!  These are strong words, but this truth is illustrated in Matthew 15:1-20, which includes the Lord’s following words of rebuke to the proud, self-righteous Pharisees in verses 7-8, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.”

Another classic example of hypocrisy and prayer is seen in Ezekiel 20:1-32. In verse 1 we learn that “certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.”  Here were the leaders of the people approaching God, supposedly to learn His will and to be guided by Him. This sounds good, right? But verses 2-3 go on to say “Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Are ye come to enquire of Me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.” This reply by the Lord to the elders of Israel may seem harsh at first, but as one reads on we learn why the Lord would not give ear to their prayers. In short, He rehearses the whole history of the nation of Israel and how they continued to rebel against Him and His Word. In verses 5-9 He exposes their sin of idolatry while living in Egypt. In verses 10-17, He brings to light their rebellion in the wilderness as they made their way to the Promised Land. It can be summed up in verses 11 and 13 which reads “And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live by them….But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” The Lord appealed to the children who were born in the wilderness with these solemn words in verse 18,But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them.”  How solemn to read their response in verse 21,Notwithstanding the children rebelled against Me; they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” And last, but not least, we learn from verses 27-32 that their rebellion against the Lord and His Word reached its zenith once they got into the land.  Even though they were now completely separated from the heathen, they proceeded to worship the gods of the heathen. This was their deplorable state when the elders came to enquire of the Lord. They may have come with a show of humility and sincerity, but it was all a sham! And thus Ezekiel was commanded to tell them, in verses 30-31,Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? And commit ye whoredom after their abominations? For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by your, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.” Their lives were an abomination to the Lord, and so were their prayers!

Dear fellow-believer, may we take these words to heart, for if we are leading a “double life,” with one foot in the world and the other in the presence of God, we are no better than the hypocrites we just looked at. And as the Lord turned a deaf ear to their prayers, He will most certainly close His ears to ours.  Let us remember the words of David in Psalm 66:18, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” If this is our state of soul, may the grace of God and the love of Christ cause our hearts to be bowed in His presence, not with lofty words and a false humility, but with words of confession coming from penitent hearts.  (137.6)  (DO)