In Psalm 66:18, the psalmist says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, . . ." What is "cherished sin"? The psalmist is talking about the love of sin. He is talking about clinging to, reveling in, and rationalizing sin. That's the kind of sin that hinders answers to our prayers.
The psalmist is talking about clinging to, reveling in, and rationalizing sin. That's the kind of sin that hinders answers to our prayers.
First Corinthians 5 describes the tragedy in the Corinthian church of an adulterous man who had come to cherish his sin. It had become precious to him—so much so that it had completely hindered the Lord's work in his life. His only hope was to be shocked back awake by facing the consequences of his sin.
A cherished sin does not have to be something as seedy as adultery. It can be something much less lurid, even seemingly respectable. Take, for instance, the rich young ruler who met Jesus. He asked the Lord what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, knowing the man's heart, told him, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mark 10:21). But the young ruler loved money more than God, and his love of money had become a cherished sin—a hindrance to following the Son of God.
So what is the remedy? Repentance. When we ask God to shine His light on our sin and then repent and confess those idols to Him, He promises to cleanse us from all guilt and unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9), restoring full communion with Him.
Are there cherished sins in your life? If your prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling, come to Him now and confess, saying in the words of poet William Cowper: "The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol be, Help me to tear it from thy throne, And worship only thee."
Prayer: Lord, help me to face and tear down the idols in my life. I long to worship only You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer" (Psalm 66:18-19).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon What Hinders Answers to Your Prayer?: WATCH NOW