When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your children in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, you Israelites? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will not let you inquire of me.Ezekiel 20:31 NIV
Ezekiel was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian exile. In this chapter of his book, some of the elders of Israel had come to Ezekiel, asking him to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. Nothing is mentioned as to what they wanted to ask. But it really did not matter since God refused to listen or respond to the inquiry.
A Reason for Unanswered Prayer
Instead, God detailed the persistent rebellion and idolatry of the people from the time of their Egyptian captivity up to the present. Every generation, including the current one, was guilty of breaking God’s decrees and desecrating his Sabbaths. So God refused to entertain their inquiries. Their prayers fell on deaf ears.
While our circumstances are different in many ways from Israel under the old covenant and in exile, I believe there is an important lesson for us in this passage. If I am not walking faithfully with my Lord, living instead to satisfy my desires, I should not expect God to hear and answer my prayer. Answered prayer is not a right. It is a privilege given to those who are faithful to him. To those who seek to live holy and godly lives amidst a fallen and broken world.