Yesterday we discussed one of the biggest hindrances of prayer. If you’re trying to commune with your Father, and it feels like your prayers are just hitting the ceiling, you need to act like a detective on CSI. You start out with a list of suspects, and you work through the list, starting with the prime suspect and then working your way down. Your prime suspect in what’s hindering your prayers should be unconfessed sin.
Let me make a quick caveat here, though. If your prayers are supposedly not being heard, if God feels like he’s a million miles away, then it might be unconfessed sin. In fact, I’d venture to guess it’s probably unconfessed sin. But it might not be. For whatever reason, the Lord might be bringing you through a time of testing, and that might include withdrawing the sense of his presence. This is a very important point. If you really belong to Christ, then he’s promised never to leave you or forsake you. But he might withdraw the empowering, comforting, encouraging sense of his presence inside and around you. He feels like he’s gone, like he either doesn’t know or care what’s going on in your life. Of course the best example of this would be Job. The Lord withdrew the sense of his presence, and Job felt abandoned by God and alone in his sufferings, and this was not because of any specific sin in his life.
Today’s topic sort of falls under the category of yesterday, but I think it bears a closer look. Maybe you’re trying to talk with your Father, and it feels like nothing is reaching his throne. You feel like you’re talking to a wall. Taking my advice, you ask him “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” or “Father, is there some unconfessed sin that I’ve committed? Something that’s hurt you? If so, please point it out to me so that we can deal with it.”
And he does. Again, the Spirit points something out to you, and you hear in your spirit “Do you remember how you spoke to your wife last night?” Or maybe he says “You promised her you’d wash the dishes last night, and you watched TV instead.” Or even worse—“What about that web site you looked at last night after she went to bed? Was that appropriate?”
What am I getting at? If you’re a husband, then the Lord takes how you treat your wife very seriously. So seriously that Peter here gives a specific warning. You're suppose to treat her a certain way, and if you don’t your prayers might be hindered.
She’s not your slave, or if she is, then you’re her’s just as much as she’s yours. Peter says that you’re supposed to be considerate of her and treat her with respect because A) She’s the “weaker” partner (I think it’s talking about emotional fragility), and B) She’s your fellow heir in Christ. As far as intrinsic worth before the throne, you’re totally equal. She’s not a “second class citizen” in the Kingdom, because there’s no such thing in his economy. And how you speak to her, cherish her, and serve her should reflect that.
If it doesn’t, if you don’t treat her as you’re expected to (no matter how she’s acting), then your prayers will be hindered. It doesn’t matter what else you pray, because until you confess and repent, you’re wasting your time and breath.
And something else I think is necessary? Go and confess to her and ask her forgiveness. I don’t think it does any good to confess to God when you’ve also offended and sinned against her. Under the Torah, if someone stole from someone else, they couldn’t just offer a sacrifice and restore the relationship with God. Unless and until they made recompense with the human party they’d hurt and stolen from (paying back 120% of what they stole), the Lord wouldn’t consider them to have repented. If you’ve sinned against a person, you need to try to make it up to them if possible. Unless and until you’ve done that, your relationship with the Lord will still be hindered.
Now, Peter is directly addressing this to husbands. Does it apply to wives as well? I think so. Wives can sin against their husbands as much as vice-versa. I’d also apply it to our relations with siblings in Christ, which we’ll discuss in more detail tomorrow.
Of course, this all falls under the heading of “If the Spirit points out a sin to you, confess and renounce it, and try to restore the relationship with the offended party if possible.” It’s just here that he’s being specific in order to emphasize how important this is.
Father, is there some area in which I’ve failed as a husband, as a church member, as a friend? If so, please forgive me, and give me the guts to go ask the forgiveness of those I’ve hurt. Thank you so much for your promise—When I confess, you forgive.