I was reading Psalm 109 this morning and was struck by something in verse 7:
When he is judged, let him be found guilty, and let his prayer become sin. (NKJV)
The NIV translates it like this: …and may his prayer condemn him.
Can a prayer be a sin? Can whispering a prayer condemn us? It must be so or it wouldn’t be written here in this psalm.
David is talking about being treated unfairly. Remember, Saul wanted to kill David. And Saul’s followers pursued David relentlessly. David asks God to be their judge. Then he said what he did about prayer.
That got me to thinking. How can a prayer be sin? Certainly in these days after the cross, when Jesus told us to love one another, including our enemies, praying that harm might come to someone is probably a sin. I can see how praying for a selfish gain would be considered a sin. Praying that God would honor or ignore or, worse, bless a sin in my life is most assuredly a sin.
Maybe God is saying through David that praying in order to tell God what His will is is a sin. Saul’s men probably thought they were obeying God by trying to protect King Saul from David’s overthrow of the kingdom. Maybe they even prayed to God to help them kill David. Praying to Allah, or a higher power, or some dear departed loved one, isn’t a prayer that honors God. And what doesn’t honor God is sin.
Then the thought came to mind that a person who rejects God’s grace and lives in opposition to God’s demands, yet prays a quick prayer when their car slips on ice, or a family member receives a frightening diagnosis sins. A person who leaves God out of their life, yet prays to win the lottery, or get a promotion at work also sins.
Prayer is a privilege. But it’s serious business to go barging into the throne room. In the Old Testament we read where a king could only be approached by invitation. Going otherwise to talk to the king resulted in death. Unless the king granted audience, you died.
We who have accepted Jesus as our Savior are invited to come boldly before the throne of grace. (Heb 4:16) We have that ongoing invitation to talk to the King any time of the day or night. But it seems to me from what I read in the Bible, if you haven’t come to God through His Son, you have no business in the throne room.
And, if I go barging into the throne room with unconfessed sin in my heart, my prayer just might condemn me. This morning I am impressed with the importance of prayer. And the seriousness of having audience with a God who is Holy, Holy, Holy. I don’t want to take this privilege for granted. And I don’t want to sin in my prayer.
Holy God, Please forgive me for sin in my life. Help me to recognize those sins and be quick to confess them. Thank you for inviting me into your throne room where I can talk to you about the things on my heart. May I never take this privilege for granted. May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, my Lord and my Savior.