Hey, you listening God?
We have probably all experienced the "feeling" that the heavens are brass and our prayers are just bouncing off the clouds like some invisible force field separates us from getting through to God. In a small way, this is kind of true because our sinful rebellion actually acts as a "force field" of sorts which keeps our prayers from "getting through" to God. If we are not willing to embrace his teachings, his ear isn't exactly "deaf" to us, but he doesn't have as much impetus to "incline it to us" either!
When people do not listen to God’s teachings, he does not listen to their prayers. (Proverbs 28:9 ERV)
I have to say this passage is kind of poignant in how it points out the concept of God "listening" and leaves out the entire concept of him "answering". There is something being said here which is actually not "said". When WE don't listen to God's teaching, it is unlikely we will ACT upon them - right? When HE doesn't see us paying attention to his teachings, he isn't really very much interested in listening to the prayers we might utter. Why? I think it may be because our prayers are not too well "lined-up" with his intent and heart's desires whenever we are failing to embrace what he teaches.
There is a definite link between paying attention to the teachings of God and the degree by which our heart is led in the correct direction as it comes to what motivates us, the things which give us challenges, and the stuff which gets "priority" in our lives. When we remain focused on our own way, own intent, and own interests, we find God's ear is a little less "attuned" to our prayers. It isn't because he loves us any less - but because he loves us too much to let us get away with our "own way" in life!
God doesn't "turn a deaf ear" because he wants to punish us, but to draw us closer. Mom is quite hard of hearing and her hearing aides just amplify the jumble of words she sometimes hears. In order to make myself heard a little easier, I often draw a little closer to her so she can "hear" me at a closer distance. It doesn't change the words I speak, only the distance the words have to travel! In drawing closer to mom, I also find I go into this mode of slowing down a little, so my words are more easily heard and understood.
God may just be asking us to step a little closer to him! When we do, we find the words we speak might just take on a different attitude. The time it takes to draw closer to him actually causes us to slow down a little. When this happens, we find ourselves getting just a little different "focus" in life. Maybe this is why we encounter "brass" on occasion - because we are running too fast to recognize our own coolness of heart, or the compromise just lurking too close to the surface of our actions. We need to draw closer to him because these things become all too clear when we find ourselves in the light of his grace! Just sayin!