He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
Can you believe God would ever call prayer an abomination?
Imagine you have a teenage son or daughter (not such a stretch for some of us!) who always says the right thing (OK, that’s a stretch):
“I’ll be glad to clean up my room, Mom.”
“All right! Liver and onions for supper again! Mom, you’re such a great cook!”
“I love you, Mom.”
“I’m so thankful to have you and Dad as parents!”
“Mom and Dad, I appreciate you. Keep up the great work!”
“My parents always make the best and wisest decisions!”
Granted, that’s not going to happen in this lifetime, but wouldn’t you receive such praise gratefully if it were offered? Would you be more inclined to extend curfew? Lend out the car keys more often? Buy that new outfit she’s been begging for?
Now what if you found out that, while your child was saying all these wonderful things to and about you, she was cheating on tests at school, lying to you about where she had been, using drugs, or sneaking around with a boy you didn’t want her to see? How much would all that praise mean to you then? Would any of it matter if your child were living in willful disobedience?
How much more are our prayers, our praise, our worship, an affront to a holy God if they are drawn from the well of a rebellious heart?
The call to take up our crosses daily and follow Him is a call to complete surrender and obedience. It’s not:
“I’ll obey if I feel like it.”
“I’ll obey if it doesn’t conflict with what I want to do.”
“I’ll obey if it’s convenient.”
“I’ll obey if it’s fun.”
“I’ll obey if people will praise me for it.”
It’s doing what God tells us to do when and how He tells us to do it. Trust me, Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the cross. It wasn’t convenient, it wasn’t fun, and, in that moment, nobody praised Him for it.
But He did it anyway.
Because He was obedient.
How can we who bear His name expect that He would call us to less?
First Samuel 15:22-23a says: “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry…”
May our prayers, praise, and worship spring from a consecrated lifestyle, in full submission to the Savior, so the Lord will not say of us:
“…this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me…” (Isaiah 29:13)
Go ahead and get your praise on…but get your obedience on first.