|Theme: Sin Blocks Prayer
|Focus on: Joshua
|Reading Portion(s): Joshua 6 & 7, Psalm 66:18.|
|– Important Background Information|
|– Helps you find strength in God|
|What this article teaches you|
|Seasons of victory can make us a little bit dull. It can cause us to be insensitive to God’s specific commands. It can blind our eyes so that we do not see the path of duty. Instead we see things that cause us to sin. We then covet and steal and hide some of those things. This is a sin that can destroy us completely. Everything goes on as usual for some time. Then comes defeat.
It is then that we turn to God in prayer. God answers and asks us to destroy what we have hidden. In practical terms we cannot hide any sinful thing in our hearts or homes and then expect God to give us victory. If we pray with sin hidden in our lives and homes; God will ask us to destroy the sinful thing first. Only then will He answer prayer. Therefore we have got to think seriously whether we need to hide sin in our lives and invite destruction.
Joshua was the man who succeeded Moses as leader of the Israelites. It was under his leadership that the Israelites crossed the overflowing banks of the river Jordan into the promised land. The Lord then gave the Israelites a great victory over Jericho in war. This city was thoroughly destroyed.
After this Joshua sent spies to spy out the city of Ai. They came back and reported that only two or three thousand men need to go to take the city. They added that there was no need to send the entire group of fighting men. The reason cited was that only a few men were there in the city.
Based on this report Joshua sent around three thousand men to conquer Ai. But they were routed by the men of Ai and some thirty-six Israelites also lost their lives. This defeat was too much for the Israelites to handle. The people began to fear and all their courage left them. This defeat was unexpected and it was very discouraging too since it came after a great victory.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground. He remained in that position before the ark of the Lord till evening. The elders of Israel also did accordingly and sprinkled dust on their heads. Indeed they were really in a state of shock, despair and grief.
Then Joshua prayed. He told God that there was no need for them to have crossed the Jordan if it was for them to be delivered into the hands of their enemies. He added that the people of the surrounding nations would hear about this defeat and take courage and come and wipe them off completely from the earth. Joshua also asked God what He was going to do for His great name when all this would happen?
God’s answer came immediately. He told Joshua that his lying on the ground was of no use. God told Joshua that Israel had sinned. And that was the reason for their defeat. God specifically pointed out that the Israelites had broken their agreement with him.
The agreement was that they will destroy everything devoted to destruction in Jericho and that they will bring all the precious things like gold and silver to the treasury of the Lord. But now God told Joshua that the Israelites had taken some of the devoted things. He added that not only had they stolen they also had lied and put the stolen articles with their own possessions.
God further told Joshua that by doing all these things the Israelites had made themselves liable to destruction. This caused them to be defeated by their enemies. Moreover God told him that Israel would not be able to face their enemies unless whatever was devoted to destruction was destroyed.
Have you ever experienced such a situation in your life; when even after much prayer you seem to be defeated all the time? The reason might be that there could be some sin in your life. God’s Word here makes it plain that you will not succeed in your efforts when sin is present in you. Moreover it shall prove to be your downfall. And God will not listen to your prayers as long as this sin remains in you.
In this particular case God asked Joshua to thoroughly destroy the man who had sinned and all his family and all his livestock. They were stoned to death and burned in the fire. The man who sinned was Achan. He had stolen a beautiful Babylonian robe, some silver and some gold. But his sin not only destroyed him but also his entire family as well. And after this destruction God encouraged Joshua. And the Israelites were enabled to conquer Ai.
Think of the cycle that evil follows: First of all desire for the wrong thing enters through the eye. If such a desire is not checked at the right moment it takes a grip on the heart. It then destroys your sense of duty. The Israelites had gone to destroy the city of Jericho. Instead of being engaged in it Achan found time to covet and steal.
Once this happens then it takes only little time before the sinner begins to lie about his newly acquired objects. After this the sinner tries to hide them among his own possessions. Coveting leads to stealing which then leads to lying which further leads to hiding. Then the sinner feels safe. Now the cycle of evil has come full circle.
This situation of feeling safe will go on without any problem till victory eludes the sinner in the next campaign. Then he may resort to prayer. There also he fails. It is then that the sin will be found out. This time it will be the sinner who will be destroyed simply because he had desired and taken possession of things devoted to destruction.
It is also to be noted that this sin crept into the Israelite camp during the moments of their victory over Jericho. We are to understand that moments of victory can have such pitfalls too. This is because during such victorious occasions we do not take care to be on our guard against temptations.
We will not be as vigilant as we are when we are engaged in a constant battle against temptation. So it goes without saying that we need to be doubly guarded against temptation during moments of victory.
Think for a moment. A few stolen things hidden among their possessions in violation of God’s command brought defeat to the entire nation. It blocked prayer. It resulted in the destruction of an entire family. Therefore take stock of your heart and your home.
God cannot answer prayer when evil things are in your possession. Sin creates blocks and interference in the communication lines of prayer. The laws of prayer demand that our hearts and minds and home be cleared of all evil if prayer has to be heard and answered. During moments of defeat it is good to seek God in prayer. And it should be done only if we are prepared to destroy the evil things when God brings the hidden sin in our lives to light.
Have you some sinful things in your possession that God wants to be destroyed. Destroy it by fire or else God’s fire and wrath shall fall on you and your family. Destroy it and then pray. God shall answer your prayers and give you victory!