Ok, I just came across some seriously disturbing and bloody video game & anime cartoon footage (which, yes, I know there are tons of that out there) especially since Japanese movies and animation has a reputation for being far more graphic and violent than American ones are... (at least in the past that was true...I'm sure when it comes to ratings, they're neck and neck now) but it reminded me of something I wanted to mention for anyone who feels like their prayers are being hindered or that 'something doesn't feel right' when it comes to having Jehovah's approval.
A long time ago I had quite a fancy for vampire shows & movies, and things that had elements of spiritism. (It was during a time period when I was slacking off spiritually and not reading my Bible regularly, and missing meetings, etc.) And for awhile it didn't really register in my mind that I shouldn't be watching that kind of stuff. Because hello? ... spiritism, demons and blood drinking. Pretty much the antithesis of Christianity. lol.
But the entertainment industry has a way of putting an 'innocent spin' on alot of that stuff, so that it doesn't seem so bad...(especially when it's in the teenage film genre), so I just became desensitized to it, since it seemed pretty 'tame' compared to other entertainment.
But when I finally got back on track spiritually, and got back in the habit of reading my Bible everyday and studying, etc, I started getting a strong feeling that I needed to stop watching that stuff and get rid of all of it. So I threw out all of my DVD's, music, and books, etc that had to do with vampires and spiritism. (Including all my 'Buffy' DVDs...which was hard because I used to love that show! =) don't laugh. lol.)
But here's the interesting thing...I noticed right away that my spiritual viewpoint became much sharper and I started gaining a much deeper understanding of everything I was studying in the Bible. (even though it was material that we've covered many times before) Plus, I felt like my conscience was clear and that nothing was hindering my prayers anymore. Also, an old friend of mine (who drifted away from the truth for awhile, and got involved in things that would compromise a person's spirituality), had a similar experience as me, after making the decision to throw out all that stuff...and everyone has noticed the improvement. It's almost like we have to make that first step before Jehovah will really start to bless our efforts.
btw, I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do, or what to watch, (because that's obviously a personal conscience matter)...the only reason I'm bringing it up, is because I remembered that some of the items which I threw out were things that I had kept packed away from highschool that I had forgotton about. And in Bible times whenever the Israelites lost Jehovah's blessing, one of the reasons was because they had failed to 'clear out of their midst' items related to idolatry/false worship, spiritism, and immorality... so Jehovah always required the Israelites to sanctify themselves and get rid of anything offensive in the land before he would answer their prayers and start showing them favor again. Which is similar to what the congregation in Ephesus did when they burnt all their expensive books on magical arts and spiritism. (speaking of which...I was totally cracking up at that part from last year's drama about the book burning in Ephesus, where that one guy who wanted to buy the books was getting all worked up into a panic, saying: "the books! the books! they're being eaten by the flames!!! hahaha)
But back to the topic...one of the Scriptural accounts which really emphasizes just how important being spiritually clean is to Jehovah, is at 2 Chronicles chapter 29, during the time period when Hezekiah began restoring pure worship in the land. All of the people and the priests were commanded to sanctify themselves, the utensils, and the house of worship, in order to get it ready for the Passover.
-Well the priests hadn't finished sanctifying themselves by the time that the Passover was supposed to be celebrated, so they actually had to wait and celebrate it the following month because that's how serious the matter was. The modern-day equivalent of that situation would be like having your congregation informed that they have to postpone the Memorial celebration to the following month, because there are elders and congregation members who need to get rid of spiritistic items, pornography, or other offensive material in their homes.
Obviously that's not going to happen today on a congregation, or group level...but I thought that was an interesting account to consider on an individual basis if we feel like our prayers are being hindered or that we don't have Jehovah's approval for some reason.