March 30th

Cherished Sin, Hindered Prayers and True Worship

17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:17-20 NIV 

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth John 4:24 NIV 

One of the reasons pornography is so dangerous is that it loads our minds with images of sex sin that will hang around for years.  The memories then serve as potential temptations for us to think back on and fantasize about.   This is what the psalmist meant by cherishing sin in the heart.   When we cherish sins in our hearts it blocks our prayers and worship because God commands us to worship him in spirit and in truth.   Since every sin involves some kind of lie, cherishing that sin violates the truth requirement for worshipping God.   

We’ve heard from many sex addicts who feel like God is ignoring them and/or that their prayers don’t seem to be working.  They are equally frustrated with trying to worship God.  They feel “spiritually dry” and a million miles from God.  In such cases, cherished sin may well be the culprit that is cutting them off from God.    

If we want to remove the roadblocks on our prayers and get reconnected with God in worship, we’ll need to arrest the cherished sin problem.  Memories of sex sin can be hard to remove from our minds, especially when we’ve gone back repeatedly to lust over them.   Dwelling on the memories actually maintains the neural pathways that support them (ref: Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter).  

It makes sense, then, that we’ll have to stop dwelling on the sin memories if we want to stop cherishing them.   This usually takes time and discipline to carry out…perhaps even decades  (see thoughts).  Even so, it is possible to clear the memories from our daily thoughts, such that we are not continually fighting to not think about them.  The Holy Spirit helps us do this (Romans 8:11,13).   

We’ll also have to die to our love for the sins we’ve been cherishing.  Peter mentioned: “He himself bore our sin in his body on the tree that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds, you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV).   Jesus died for us such that we could die to sins, live for righteousness and receive healing.  Part of that healing is available for our minds from the memories and sinful thought patterns we’ve developed over the years.  We can ask God to help us die to our enjoyment of sin and help us see sin the way he sees it.   Again, the Holy Spirit will be the agent that helps renew and heal our minds (Romans 12:2) as we follow Jesus each day.  He will teach us how to think as the new persons in Christ that we are.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

"Dear Lord, I pray that you will not remember the sins of my youth.  Please think of me according to Your mercy and for Your goodness' sake, O LORD.  Lord I turn from all of those sins that I committed.  Please wash my memory of my sin and help me remove the sin from my mind completely.  Help me not to return to those memories for lust any longer.   Please restore me to faithfully obey Your Word.  Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit anew, so that I may keep Your commands all the days of my life."    (Based on Psalm 25:7) 

(more prayers on cherished sin)