Summary: If you want God to answer your prayer listen to Him first; then ask for things in accordance with his character and with a humble confidence in Him
In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Bruce (Jim Carey) is a reporter who made a fool of himself on national television, lost his job, was attacked on the street, and had an emotional blow-up with his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston). With his world falling apart, Bruce takes a midnight ride to clear his head and begins a pleading conversation with God. (Start Video Clip: Bruce Almighty Send Me a Sign)
“Okay, God, you want me to talk to you? Then talk back. Tell me what's going on. What should I do? Give me a signal.”
As he utters these words, a glowing road construction sign, directly in front of him, flashes: “Caution Ahead.”
But Bruce doesn't notice. “I need your guidance, Lord,” he begs, “please send me a sign.”
Immediately a large road-crew truck pulls in front of him. The back of the truck is filled with street signs in plain view: “Stop.” “Dead End.” “Wrong Way.” “Do Not Enter.”
Again Bruce is oblivious. In fact, he becomes irritated to be stuck behind the slow, rumbling truck. In frustration he recklessly swerves to pass the truck and grumbles, “Lord, I need a miracle. I'm desperate. I need your help, Lord.”
Losing control of his car, he spins off the road and rams into a lamp post. Jumping out of his hissing, mangled, steaming vehicle, Bruce flings his arms into the air in utter disgust. He rages at God.
“Fine, the gloves are off. Come on, let me see a little wrath. Smite me, Almighty Smiter. You're the one who should be fired. The only one around here not doing his job is you. Answer me.” (Bruce Almighty, Universal, 2003, directed by Tom Shadyac, written by Steve Kornen and Mark O'Keef, 00:21:03 to 00:23:25; DVD track 5)
God is answering Bruce, but Bruce fails to pay attention, and then he wonders why his world is falling apart. How like so many people in our churches. They want answers from God, but fail to pay attention to the answers He is already giving them. The fact is: God is communicating with us all the time. The question is: Are we listening?
Do you want God to answer your prayers? Then first of all, you must…
LISTEN TO GOD.
You must pay attention to what He is already telling you. You must heed His Word. You must open your ears before you open your mouth.
Genesis 18:16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. (ESV)
Abraham was walking with the Lord and two angels.
Genesis 18:17-19a The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him…
Literally, in the Hebrew, “I have known him”; i.e., I have a close, personal, intimate relationship with him
Genesis 18:19-21 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” (ESV)
God already knows, doesn’t He? So then why does He want to investigate it personally? Why does God go to all the trouble to come down and see for Himself what is happening in Sodom and Gomorrah? That’s so no one can accuse God of judging them unfairly. That’s so no one can accuse God of judging people on the basis of hearsay evidence.
But why tell Abraham? God doesn’t have to answer to Abraham or to anyone else for that matter. So why does God tell Abraham His plans. It’s because He knows Abraham! They have a close, personal relationship. They’re friends, and that’s what friends do! They share secrets with each other. They tell each other things they wouldn’t tell anybody else.
God shares his thoughts with Abraham, and Abraham takes the time to listen! As they get up from their meal (described in the first part of the chapter), Abraham is not shooing God out the door. No! Abraham walks with God and takes the time to listen to what God has to say.