Summary: A sermon about how prayers are answered.

TOPIC: ?How Are Prayers Answered??

TEXT: John 15:5-8; Matthew 7:7-8; Matthew 21:21-22

At a church in Kentucky, a little boy got a little too rambunctious during the worship service. His father picked the boy up and started for the door. As they were heading down the aisle, the boy said, at the top of his voice: ?Ya?ll pray for me now!?

Another little boy was spending the day with his father. They went to a diner for lunch. When the waiter brought the food, the father said, ?Son, we?ll just have a silent prayer.? Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer. The little boy sat there for a long time with his head bowed. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, ?What in the world were you praying about all that time?? The little boy replied, ?How do I know, Dad? It was a silent prayer.?

For the past few weeks, we have been looking at the topic of ?Prayer? here in SonDay Live!. Steve Strange started us off a few weeks back by talking about what prayer is ? a sort of how to do it talk. Two weeks ago, before our day off last Sunday for the ?All-Church Anniversary Lunch,? I talked about prayer as a necessity for Christians. Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God. Prayer strengthens our relationship with God, connects us with God?s power for our lives, and enables us to hear the will of God for our lives. Through prayer, God speaks to our lives. So, you see, prayer is essential for our lives as Christians. A strong prayer life keeps us strong as Christians.

Today, we are turning to the final topic in our series: ?How does God answer prayer?? To get us started, let me ask you the same question that J.T. and Chris asked people at the Galleria Mall on the video we saw a few minutes ago. How many of you believe that God answers prayer? Shout yes if you do. Sounds like most of us believe that God answers prayer. Now, how many of you have ever prayed for something that didn?t happen? Shout yes again. So, what do you make of that? If God answers prayers, why do some of our prayers go unanswered?

To be honest with you, I have had a difficult time writing this sermon. You see, I am in the same boat as you are. I have prayed many times for things to happen that never happened. I have prayed for people to get well and they didn?t. I have prayed for marriages to be saved and they weren?t. I have prayed for success of church programs that were flops. I have prayed for people to change their lives, and they didn?t. I have prayed for people to live and they died. I have prayed for a lot of things over the years that never happened. Yet, I believe with all my heart that God answers prayers. I?ve had a hard time putting this sermon together because there are so many things about prayer that I don?t understand, and I sure don?t understand why God seems to answer some prayers and not others.

To make things more complicated, the Bible talks about prayer in ways that seem to contradict our experience:

Jesus said: ?Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).

Or how about Matthew 21:22? Jesus said to his disciples: ?If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer? (Matthew 21:22).

Or how about John 15:7? Jesus said to his disciples: ?If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you? (John 15:7).

Sounds confusing, doesn?t it. The Bible seems to say that we will get whatever we ask for in prayer. Yet, our experience in prayer is just the opposite. We don?t always get that for which we pray. There?s my dilemma. So, don?t expect this talk to be the last word on prayer. Instead, see it as a work in progress from someone who, like most of you, doesn?t have all the answers. I am going to talk about how God answers prayers, but first, I want to say two things to help us think about how.

First thing: Prayer is about our relationship with God. The purpose of prayer is to establish and enrich our relationship with God. The simple truth of the matter is that God wants more than anything to have a relationship with each one of us. God loves you so much that God wants to be in your life. If you don?t hear anything else I say this morning, hear that. God wants to be a part of your life! God loves you more than you can ever imagine. You are more valuable to God than anything. God wants to be a part of your life. In fact, God sent Jesus into the world to die for your sins so that God can be a part of your life!

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