Summary: God is not some kind of celestial slot machine. You don’t pop in a quarter or two’s worth of prayer, hit a button, and expect to receive exactly what you want. God is not a genie in a bottle. You don’t rub the bottle with your prayer, and expect God to

Introduction: A fifth grade boy who had heard a sermon on persistence in prayer was praying by himself in his room one night. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, "Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo." The next day, the dad asked his son what we were doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of Mexico. I think the boy was a little unclear on the concept, don’t you? But sometimes, we do the same. We want God to adjust to us rather than our seeking what God wants and adjusting to Him.

Read John 11: 17 – 27

Gleaning from the text we can be assured that God answers prayer in three different ways.

1. YES - Jesus would make Lazarus alive but Mary & Martha had not asked it of Him.

In Acts 3 & 4 the disciples received exactly what they had asked for – healing a cripple.

I believe all of us respond very well to this sort of an answer from God.

2. WAIT - Why does God want us to wait? Reasons!

(a) He wants us to focus on Him. (We tend to focus on our need than on God.)

Exodus 20: 3 “You shall have no other gods before {3 Or besides} me.”

Matthew 6: 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

(b) He wants us to trust in Him. Just the way we trust the chair we are sitting on that it will not break and make us fall on the ground but will keep holding us up till the service gets over. How much we trust the chair we are sitting on but we can’t trust …….?

Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

(c) He wants to change our attitude. Prayer is building our relationship with God.

Philippians 2: 5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Example: Drive at an early age. Not matured enough to handle it.

(d) He wants to give us a greater gift. (Lazarus’s healing would be good but resurrection was better.)

Isaiah 55: 8 – 9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Illustration: There was a man marooned on an island who was desperately looking for a boat to come by and rescue him. After many days praying and asking God to send a boat to rescue him, he sighted a boat and his hopes were lifted. He ran out on the beach took some shirts and waved them to get the attention of the boat. But they didn’t see his shirts signaling to them and went on by. He was so downhearted and so downcast he began to accuse God. “God, why didn’t you answer my prayer? God, why didn’t they see me?” As he walked back to the hut he had constructed, he saw that the hut had caught on fire and was going up in smoke. He said, “Now, God, what have you done? The boat passed by and missed me and the hut that I’m living in has burned down.” About that time he heard the boat coming back. When he was rescued he asked them, “Why did you come back? They said, Well, we got your signal.” He said, “No, you didn’t get my signal. I waved my shirts until I was exhausted, you didn’t get my signal.” They said, “We saw the fire you built to let us know that you were there.” [God works in His way not ours.]

3. NO! [Just can’t accept this answer] But why does God give us such an answer?

If our request is wrong, God will simply say, “No!”

(a) Doesn’t fit into God’s plan for our lives.

Illustrations: (i) A girl with brown eyes prayer for having blue eyes.

(ii) The mission field is placed with the same kind of people everywhere.

(iii) Paul requested God to take away the thorn in his flesh. (2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 9 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

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