9/22 Isaiah 58:9

9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

The nation of Judah had sunk into a state of idolatry and greed. They still performed their religious rituals but they also worshiped other gods. They would take periods of time and abstain from eating, a fast, to focus on prayer. After sacrificing by going without food, they wondered why their prayers weren't answered. If you perform a religious duty, isn't God obligated to give you what you ask?

God called them on their religious hypocrisy. He told them the kind of fast that He desired was not abstaining from food, but to undo heavy burdens, to stop oppressing people, and to break free from wickedness. While they were supposedly in this time of prayer, they would fight and quarrel with others. God said the real reason they were fasting was just to seek something for themselves.

God went on to tell them what He wanted to see them do: feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and get real about their own sins. That's when He spoke the promise of our verse today. Then He would hear their prayers and commune with them. They needed to stop oppressing people and accusing others and speaking wickedness if they wanted to be in fellowship with God. They needed to take a look at their hearts behind their actions. God does.

Application: We can perform all kinds of religious acts, but God's heart is not pleased with ritual. He loves mankind. Help your fellow man and think about the needs of others. Examine your own heart, get right with God and He will hear your prayers.