Firestarter: Proverbs 28:9

By Nate LaClaire —  May 28, 2011 — 6 Comments

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. — Proverbs 28:9 (NLT)

I started again reading a chapter a day in Proverbs today. This verse from today’s reading caught my attention. When have my prayers been detestable? When have yours? Any thoughts?

6/9/2011 Update: Perhaps I should better explain my thoughts. I take this to mean that when I am ignoring God’s law, willfully disobeying, God finds my prayers detestable. I originally applied it as such: if I am living in a sinful manner, what right do I have to ask God for anything? He finds my prayers detestable. Upon further examination and consideration, I wonder how being a forgiven child of God applies? So, perhaps, one should take it as such: God detests the prayers of those who have not sought his forgiveness. If you have not placed your faith in Christ Jesus, don’t seek His help. Or perhaps one could apply it on a more case-by-case basis: I shouldn’t seek God’s help in committing sin. For example, I shouldn’t ask God to help me lie.

I’m not sure any of those are wrong. Maybe misguided in places, but I think that the truth is probably some combination of the above and perhaps things not mentioned here.

Perhaps the ESV’s translation can shed come light on the meaning:

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Nate LaClaire

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Nate LaClaire is a Christian millennial web developer and entrepreneur who writes about faith, life, and intentional living. He is lead developer at Home Building Estimates and owner of Netwalker Internet Services.
  • Detestable isn’t a word I often use, but I can see it could apply. Anyway I think it’s futile at best, and likely also hypocritical and dangerous, when I pray to be released from the consequences of choices I continue to make, from the very mundane things, like praying for energy for my work and staying up late reading, to the larger ones, like making pleasing people/proving my own goodness a priority and then praying not to be anxious.
    I almost added, praying for people for whom I am failing to do what is in my power to help. But sometimes in those cases prayer makes me more aware of what i need to do.
    For me, then,the law analogy is less to government law than to natural laws like gravity. Straining to please and praying for release from anxiety is sort of like jumping from a high place and informing God that I don’t want to fall–a behavior which doesn’t get good press in the Gospels.

    • Good thoughts, Joanna. Thanks for sharing. Personally, I don’t use detestable much, either, but I tend to let God use whatever words he thinks are best. 🙂

  • I’d like to hear more about how you apply/interpret this verse.

    • I’ve been contemplating it a lot. I take “law” in the passage to be referring to God’s law, not government’s. I’m updating the post above to better reflect my thoughts.

  • As Christians, we’re reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:21. God looks at us and all he sees is Jesus’ righteousness, so our prayers really aren’t detestable to him. It’s the unforgiven, who willingly don’t keep the commandments. Their prayers look like a rotting carcass to God. Disgusting.