Summary: Looking at How God answers prayer.
Asking According to God’s Will - Luke 5:12-16
One of the most concerning things about the Christian walk is unanswered prayer. If you were all honest, you would tell me that there are plenty of things that you have prayed about that have not been answered. Some of them big, some of them small, but all of them important, to us anyway.
- It may be a spouse that doesn’t know Christ and you’ve been praying for them for years.
- It may be a child that has gone off the rails.
- It may be that you’ve been praying for a husband or wife for years, but no one has come your way.
- It may be for a friend of loved one who has cancer or another debilitating disease.
- It may be world peace.
If we were all honest, we’d have to admit there are things we’ve prayed about, that haven’t seemed to be answered.
How do we reconcile that? Why does God seem to ignore some of the most sincere desires that we have? I can give you plenty of verses which on first reading implies that all we need to do is ask in faith ...
James 5:15 - And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
John 14:12-14 - I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Matt 21:21-22 - “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ¡¥Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
But these are promises which don’t always seem to work. But why not?
This morning I want to look a bit closer at this story the Leper that came to Jesus, because in it I think is a clue to why some of our prayers remain unanswered.
Lets read it - Luke 5:12...
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Now here was a man, who had leprosy. This word was a generic term which spoke of any skin complaint. It was not necessarily the leprosy that we know today, but it was a skin condition that had no cure. The only cure for a person with leprosy was isolation so when you noticed a problem with your skin, you went to the priest for a diagnosis. You would usually be quarantined for 7 days and re-examined. If it was still there you waited another 7 days. If it was still there, you were declared unclean.
This had a few rather disastrous consequences. Firstly you were PHYSICALLY isolated from society. Because there was no cure, the way to stop it spreading was to avoid all physical contact. Imagine that - no more embraces by people who loved you. Your children weren’t allowed to come and sit on your knee. No more pats on the back or hands on your shoulders - unless of course it was by another person who was unclean.
If you had leprosy, you were also SOCIALLY isolated. You were forced to live outside of the city or the camp. It was actually illegal for you to enter the city for fear of others coming into contact with you. To help others avoid you, you were required to call out unclean when ever anyone approached you and they would therefore give you a wide berth. You could not mix in with other people or attend the temple worship. You were socially isolated.
Not only were you physically and socially isolated, you were also PSYCHOLOGICALLY isolated. The disease you had was regarded by everyone as disgusting. It was unclean, dirty. Lepers were ashamed of thief condition and they became the lowest of low in the society. Because lepers could not mix in society, if you became a leper, you lost your job. - You became unemployed, destitute and a beggar overnight.