GOD DOES ANSWER OUR PRAYERS
A man once adopted a young child into his family., He worked and sacrificed all that he had to provide for his child. He met the child’s every need. He showed the child his love and affection always.
Finally the day came when the child decided he wanted something from his father that he didn’t have as yet. First he called softly to his father and apparently the father did not hear for nothing seemed to happen., The child cried out more loudly, then even frantically., Not satisfied, the child tried to bargain with his father., After awhile he tried threats to his father and screamed and yelled., He even called out, “You don’t love me!”
At last the child lay down in exhaustion and concluded that his father was cruel and uncaring and that would never answer him., Little did the lad know that at that very minute his father was in the process of building a beautiful lodging, a mansion for the child, a place that would be his very own for his whole life.
Now this is not a real life story, but it could have been., It is merely my description of how many Christians view God, their heavenly Father, and the lack of answers they seem to receive when they pray., I am sorry to say but it is silent evidence that we do not know God very well.
Prayer is not a matter to be addressed as lightly as ordering up a rib-eye at your favorite steak house., It is not something to be “tried to see if it works.”, The person who does not know Christ can hardly be faulted for reaching into his pocket to rub his rabbit’s foot. But, God has called His children to have a far higher view of prayer. Make no mistake about it. God does answer our prayers., Let’s talk about it.
I. GOD’S PROMISE TO ANSWER PRAYER
A. The logic that He will answer
1. “If his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” (Mt. 7:9)
2. “If [a child] ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent?” (Mt. 7:10)
3. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him? (Mt. 7:11)
Logic demands that He will give you an answer.
B. The promise that He will answer
1. “ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jn. 15:7)
a. You mean we can ask for anything? — Yes.
b. You mean God is prepared to open the windows of Heaven? — He is.
c. You mean this applies to everyday things? — Absolutely.
d. If this is so, then people right and left should be getting whatever they ask? — Right.
C. Supporting Promises
1. “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Is. 59:1).
2. “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mt. 7:7)
3. “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Mt. 21:22).
-God does promise to answer our prayers!
II. GOD’S PREREQUISITE TO ANSWERED PRAYER (II Chronicles 7:13-14)
A. The Condition He Sets: Cleanliness from all known sin
1. The Psalmist said: “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not, hear me (Ps. 66:18), (“Cherished evil thoughts”, NEB)
2. The writer of the Chronicles, perhaps Ezra, addressed Israel’s, national sins., The imperative of confessing and forsaking these sins is demonstrated in II Ch. 7 as God addresses Solomon: “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people” (v. 13)
-Why would God shut off the rain upon a nation? — Because of sin
-Why would God send a scourge of locusts upon a nation? — Because of sin
-Why would God send pestilence among his people? — Because of sin
Note: There is abroad today, in our land, and around the world, a scourge, a dreadful physical sickness (some refer to it as a judgment from God)., Today it is at epidemic stage. Some medical people refer to it as a plague., This no- cure disease was unknown in the world until 1981., I refer to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)., Leading up to it is a condition referred to as “HIV.”, Our present plague has, unfortunately, struck the innocent., At its beginning it was not so., It was a disease originally among only sin-laden, degraded, victims because of immorality.
The condition He sets is a heart right with God, not one trapped in deliberate sin, such as Israel would enter here in this text (“but your SINS!” Isaiah 59:2., Putting away known sin is God’s prerequisite to answered prayer.
B. The fivefold description He gives v. 14
1. “If my people” (Those who know and belong to the Lord)
2. “shall humble themselves”- “be converted” (Douay, Catholic version)
3. “and pray” — many prayers are unanswered because they are unprayed- We didn’t even ask!
4. “and seek my face” (“search for me” — TLB)
5. “and turn from their wicked ways” — if the sins of America were piled in the middle of the world, like sacks of flour, they would make a mountain of stench in the nostrils of, God as big as Everest- 29,000 feet of Divine heartbreak.
– God’s prerequisite is to make a clean break with sin!
III. GOD’S PATTERN FOR ANSWERING PRAYER
A. Union with Him
Note: The doctrine of “union with Christ” is much neglected., When the believer is in union with Christ in his or her heart and life, the attitude of prayer will be much different than many assume.
1. This is what prayer is
Andrew Murray, on prayer in his little book With Christ in the School of Prayer mentions that there are three classes of worshippers in prayer:
a. Some who in their ignorance hardly know what to ask
b. Others with a better knowledge who try to pray with their hearts set upon God, but they know no fullness in prayer
c. Third, those who ask of the Lord to take us into worship and into spirit and truth (p. 19)
Note: The palsied man of Mark chapter 2., The text notes that when our Savior saw “their faith” He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5).
Note: Misunderstandings that mislead us with respect to John 15:7
The phrase: “ask what ye will” is the heart of what we are talking about with respect to praying and receiving., It is very easily misunderstood.
Before we begin to interpret this all-important invitation of our Lord, we need to state clearly a principle of biblical interpretation. (Biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics in colleges and seminaries that train preachers., It is of critical importance in these days when attention to, Scripture tends to be downplayed.), II Peter 1:20 says “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
As plainly as I can break it down, here is what that comes to:
No interpretation of any passage of Scripture is necessarily correct until it is understood within the context of every other, passage of Scripture that may bear upon that subject.
The late Dr. Arthur F. Williams,, at Cedarville, said: “All truth is harmonious.”, It is not being a good Bible student to try to make a passage of Scripture say something that other passages, if considered, would temper.
2. “Ask what ye will” John 15:7
Note: Now we come to the heart of the matter, why so many prayers are not answered., Negatively, “Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3)., It is easy to, pray either as a substitute for our own labor or merely as an extension of something we couldn’t finagle through our own effort. They are lustful things, that is things asked with wrong motives, to be “spent upon our own pleasures” (NASB).
This is to “regard iniquity in our hearts” thus to make even the act of praying itself a sin- we have not even met God’s first requirement.
a. It must be asked in Jesus’ name ¦whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23).
When my father passed away and went home to the Lord on October 22, 1980, my mother said to me on the phone a few weeks later, “Ken, your dad wanted you to have some of his things ., The next time you come home, be sure to take them with you., When we did return home, I remembered what she had said.
– I walked into the garage and saw the old bench vise that had repaired many objects under my dad’s caring, hands, many of them mine.
– I saw the post-hole diggers that had dug, I suppose hundreds of holes. I saw the worn places on the handles where my father’s hands had labored.
– I saw the old shoe last that had resoled so many of my brother’s and my shoes over the years, often from old discarded belting my dad had received permission to take from his employer.
– I went down into the basement and knelt at the base of the workbench. I opened the doors and saw many of my father’s machinist tools- the micrometers, the taps and bits, the delicate gauges and tools I couldn’t even name.
– There was the old corn cutter my dad had labored with literally under the light of the moon to provide a little extra before he went into work at midnight at the factory.
– I went into his study and stood, gazing. There was the old manual typewriter that my dad had used, two-finger style, to punch out a thousand sermons.
– I saw the papers on his desk just the way he left them after he prepared his final prayer meeting notes a few weeks before., I thought of his faithfulness, sitting at the pulpit, too weak to stand, only fourteen days to the hour, before his death when he delivered that final humble Bible study.
– I went to his gun case and saw his two shotguns, identical Winchesters. There was “old bellerin’ Betsy,” the 12 gauge, and “new bellerin’ Betsy, single barrels- Dad didn’t respect the hunters who shot up the woods with their pump guns., I remembered my dad’s careful woodsmanship.
Now came my mother’s words: “You have your father’s name, take anything you want.”
“Mom, I can’t take anything”¦, It’s all sacred- it has my father’s blood on it!”
Yonder, on Calvary
-I see the cross and the blood that ran down upon it
-I see the rumpled grave clothes which released His triumphant resurrection body
-I rise to the mountain and I survey the riches of puny men whose selfish sin nailed my Savior there.
-I turn and look, down in the valley of death., I see the Son of God languishing under the terrible burden of every one of my sins.
Roy Hessian’s little book The Calvary Road tells of the vision of a Chinese Christian., The Christian is toiling up a huge hill in his Christian life., Down below him, he sees another man also making his difficult way up the hill., He sees the man has an enormous black bag, a burden on his back., As the man draws near, the Chinese Christian sees that the Man is Jesus.
“Dear Lord,” he calls, “I see you there, carrying the sins of the whole world upon your back!”
“No, my son,” the Lord answers, “These are your sins!”
“You have your Father’s name- take anything you want.
“Father, I can’t take anything., All this is sacred, it has my Savior’s blood on it.”
3. Now, I know what union with my father (Father) is
a. I go back to my mother, and father’s home and take:
– a big old end wrench, we called it the “knuckle buster.”, The men who have worked with them know why it is so-called.
– the famous, old half and nine-sixteenths box wrench we, Dad I, had used toadjust so many tappets.
– I take some precious volumes from his library- I dole them out to my four sons like nuggets of gold, including the four-leaf clovers old “Eagle Eye” had found and had pressed into the pages.
b. I go back to Calvary and to my Father’s house:
– I brush aside my vision of the shiny car, expensive hobbies, fancy houses, the trinkets of human preoccupation!
– I see the one walking afar from His fold., I must have him for God’s kingdom.
– I see the sorrow on that wrinkled brow., I vow to have a blessing from my Father for this fallen one!
– I see my Savior’s work in disarray., By His grace I ask Him for the wisdom and courage to make a difference
Now I know His pattern for answering prayer. I am in union with Christ., I ask what I will and it shall be done to me.
B. The four patterns for answered prayer (I am indebted to Dr. W.W. Welch)
a. Direct- “Dad, may I have a bicycle for Christmas?”, – And there it was.
b. Delayed- “Dad, I’m nine years old now., May I have a car for Christmas?, “Son, I’m not going to give you a car for Christmas now., I will wait until you are 46, then I will give you a car., — And he did.
c. Denied- “Dad, may I have a box car full of dynamite so I can celebrate, the 4th of July with my friends?” — NO!
d. Diverted- “Father, may I have Barbara for a wife, now that we are both six years old? (When I tried to kiss her on the way home from school, I got a nasty surprise on the side of the head.” That didn’t work out!)
“Can I have ________ for a wife?” (No, she will die of a brain tumor as a young woman.)
“Can I have ________as a wife?”, (No, she will be murdered by age 50.)
Son, I’m going to wait until you are 21, then I am going to give you a little girl named Jane!, (Hallelujah!)
-God’s four paths to answered prayer., They are all answers: Direct- Yes! Delayed- Yes, but later!, Denied- No, that wouldn’t be good for you!, Diverted- How about this instead!
Conclusion: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7)., — Amen
Pastor Kenneth F. Pierpont