Prayers God Will Not Hear:
One of the more interesting discussions in the Bible that affect the Christian’s day to day life is prayer. Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks are Paul’s four inclusive descriptions for man’s one-way communication with God (1 Timothy 2:1). This act of reverence was the daily routine of Daniel (Daniel 6:10) and finds itself frequently talked about in the exhortations and directives to the New Testament church. For something so integral to the Christian life, it is alarming to read of so many reasons that cause God to shut His ears and cease listening to prayer. This brief article is the first in a six-part series examining different prayers that God has clarified He will not hear.
The first case of detestable prayer to be examined is found in 1 Peter 3:7. For people who have never read the Bible all the way through, this one may come as a surprise because of its obscurity. In the previous six verses the apostle Peter admonished women in what is proper conduct towards a husband. As is always the case, the Holy Spirit does not instruct the woman without tempering the man’s self-esteem. In 1 Peter 3:7 the apostle goes on to tell the man, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (the wife) with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” There are several truths that could be drawn from all that is said in this single verse, but for brevity sake, notice three items- the definition of honor, the implications for wives, and the consequences of not listening to Peter.
First, notice the definition of the word honor. Honor is the characteristic that takes center stage in this verse. Honor is the thing that, if neglected, will cause God to shut His ears to the husband’s prayer. Strong’s Greek Lexicon puts for the following definition- “a value, that is, money paid, or (concretely and collectively) valuables; by analogy esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself.” Depending on the context, giving honor could mean to give money. However, in another context (the context of 1 Peter 3:7), the same phrase can mean to highly esteem someone. Here, Peter is demanding that men highly esteem their wives, making them feel valued and equally worthy of eternal life. Husbands who neglect, verbally abuse, or physically abuse, or dishonor their wives in any way are included in this address.
Second, do not overlook the implications of the things said by Peter. The wife is no less responsible for honoring her husband. The previous six verses are almost entirely about the wife’s disposition toward the husband. By connection and implication, the wife must understand that failing to honor her husband will likewise affect her prayer. This is similar logic as found in Matthew 5:28 where men are specifically told not to lust after a woman. Does Matt. 5:28 allow for a woman to lust after a man? Certainly not. For obvious reasons Jesus directly addressed the men in the Sermon on the Mount. It is equally understandable that Peter does not tell men to honor their wives to the exclusion of women. A woman who neglects, verbally abuses, physically abuses, or fails to submit to her husband (1 Peter 3:1) is included in this address by implication.
Third, stop to really consider the consequences that Peter sets forth. Imagine a son calling his father one day. The phone rings and rings, but the father never answers. After several days and several attempts, it becomes clear that the father is upset with the son. The son goes days, months, and even years wanting to simply hear his father’s voice, still not understanding why his father has refused to talk to him. One day the son comes across an old letter the father had written him but was never opened. The letter read 1 Peter 3:7 with the comment, “If I ever hear about you mistreating that girl of yours, you can forget about talking to me.” This is essentially what God has said to husbands and wives in His word.
Who knew that God cared so much about husbands and wives treatment of one another. If a person never read 1 Peter they might never know how this can affect prayer life. After all, when is the last time you heard a sermon on 1 Peter 3:7? God’s people must be a people that listen to God as much or more than they speak to Him. Read, repent, pray, and repeat. Don’t let another prayer go unanswered.