Can your ongoing sins hinder your prayer life, or will the Lord not answer your prayers because you continue to do sinful deeds?  Absolutely!  We read in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  If we continue to indulge in activities that we know are sinful and against God’s will, that will cause Him to disregard our prayers.  We also read in Proverbs 28:9, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”  If we insist on resisting the truth of God’s Word and continue to sin against the Lord, he considers our prayers to be an outrage.  It is as if we do not want the Lord’s influence in our lives, but we do want Him to minister to our needs when we need Him. 

You acknowledge that you continue in these bad habits.  It is obvious that you are concerned about this.  That is the Lord working in your heart to convict you about the things you are allowing in your life.  Whatever it is, we are assured of the Lord’s forgiveness when we confess our sins to him.  1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Psalm 51 is a prayer of David confessing his sin to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness, and asking to be restored.  We read in verses 1-4, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”  David asked for the Lord’s mercy as he confessed his sins. He prayed in verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  He understood that it was only the Lord who could cleanse him and give him the proper spirit he needed to abandon his sin and serve the Lord.  I encourage you to read this psalm in its entirety and look at the heart of a truly repentant man and his words of confession to the Lord.  Seek to imitate his repentance and how he confessed to the Lord so that he might be restored.

You should begin with prayer and ask the Lord to examine you and show you what is really in your heart.  He will help you discover why you are hanging on to your bad habits.  Let’s consider the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  David, realizing his own sinful ways, asked the Lord to search his heart.  He desired to know what was really in his heart.  We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  We cannot really know our own hearts.  We need the Lord to search out our hearts, show us our wicked ways, and lead us in the way everlasting.

I have one more verse I want to share with you.  Romans 12:9 tells us to, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”  The Lord not only wants us to cease from sin, He wants us to hate sin!  When we occupy ourselves with Him, His mercy, His love, etc. we will desire to please Him in all we do.  We will desire to live a life that pleases and honors Him.  We will find it much easier to stop bad habits and live for Him, our blessed savior.  (433.2)