The third obstacle to answered prayer is unconfessed sin. After conquering Jericho, the strongest city in the Promised Land, the Israelites were defeated by a handful of soldiers in a small village called Ai. Joshua was devastated! He ‘tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the Ark of the Lord.’ (Joshua 7:6 NIV)
Listen to his prayer: ‘The other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will You do for Your own great name?’ (Joshua 7:9 NIV)
How did God respond? You might be surprised. ‘The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned.”’ (Joshua 7:10–11 NIV) What had happened? Achan, one of the soldiers, had stolen some of the spoils of battle which belonged to God. Jericho was the first city in the Promised Land to be conquered, and God said the ‘firstfruits’ of all we have must be given to Him (see Proverbs 3:9). The treasures from the next nine battles belonged to the people, but the treasures of Jericho belonged to God.
There’s a time to pray, and a time to stop praying, so you can deal with the sin in your life. You can’t pray, ‘Lord, what do You want to do?’ when you already know what to do but aren’t willing to do it. Is God speaking to you through today’s reading? ‘If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.’ (1 John 3:21–22 NIV)