We cannot deny man’s sinfulness, as revealed by God’s law; we are sinful, polluted, and an abomination in God’s sight. But we also must not deny God’s gospel; He delights to save sinners and encourages them to come to Him (John 6:37). Both these truths should not keep us from Jesus Christ, but direct us to Him, the only remedy for sin. The gospel should lead us to pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Please take away all the unrighteousness of self that fills me and fill me with all that I am missing—the righteousness of Jesus Christ.”
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
In Isaiah 55, God shows His compassion by inviting “everyone that thirsteth” (v. 1) to enter into His promised blessings. This thirst of deep spiritual longing drives us to Him for mercy; verses 6 and 7 emphasize the urgency of responding to Him. The verb seek suggests actively using God’s means of prayer. The One we seek is the LORD: the unchangeable, gracious, covenant-keeping Jehovah. We should not foolishly delay embracing God’s offer; we must seek Him “while he may be found”—now—before the day of our death. The prophet emphasizes personal prayer with the words “call ye,” reminding us that God’s offered salvation is available now, while “He is near” us with His Word and blessings. We must not reject this offer. If we do not heed the call, the time will come when He will not be found and we will be separated from Him forever. God requires us wholeheartedly to repent of our sinful thoughts, words, and actions, receiving by faith His abundant, pardoning mercy and grace, which far exceed the mountains of our great sin and guilt.
Some people argue that because they cannot pray rightly, it is better for them not to pray at all. They draw support from Scripture verses that describe the prayers and worship of sinners as a stench in God’s nostrils and an abomination in His sight. They say that God will not hear sinners and that whatever is not of faith is sin.
The first part of this argument—that we cannot pray rightly—is true, but the conclusion that it is then better not to pray at all is false.