Summary: Sermon looks at God’s plan for answered prayer: when he says no, not yet, or yes to prayer, and what do do in the waiting period
Attitudes to Answered Prayer
(Acknowledgement - Ray Duerksen - Southland Community Church)
There are three attitudes I believe we all need in order to have answers to our prayers.
o E.g. A young girl who wrote a letter to a missionary. It was a prayer letter and she was trying to lend her support to the missionary. Evidently she’d been told not to request a response to her letter because the missionaries were very busy. So the missionary got a kick out of her letter. It said, "Dear Mr. Missionary, we are praying for you. But we are not expecting an answer."
o I think that little girl summarized the prayer lives of many Christians.
o Dear God, I am praying to you, but I doubt you will answer
o But Jesus taught a parable to show his followers that they should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).
o Tell story of Zechariah & Elizabeth:
o Zechariah was married to Elizabeth, and was a priest by profession, serving in the Jerusalem temple
o The couple was childless, and now in old age
o Not looked down upon in our culture but is Jewish culture this was considered equivalent to not having God’s blessing in your life
o One day as Zechariah was burning incense inside the temple, as a large crowd stood praying outside the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared and stood just to the right of the altar where Zechariah was burning the incense.
o Luke 1:12-13 (NLT) “Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. But the angel said, "Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John.”
o He received a RHEMA (Stanley) from God
o What is a Rhema
o A rhema is a verse or portion of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation or need for direction.
o Every word of God is inspired, and “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit Who illuminates particular Scriptures for application in a daily walk with the Lord.
o The words of Jesus are significant on this point. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeded out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus also stated, “The words [rhema] that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
o When God gives a rhema for us to act upon, He often confirms it by a second rhema, that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word [rhema] be established” (II Corinthians 13:1).
o f. Luke 1:16-17 (NLT) And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom." (RHEMA) – his specific word from God was he would have a special son
o What was the second RHEMA, specific word from God to him? It was that God was setting in motion his own visit to earth through the promised Messiah
o They doubted the angel’s message that they were to have a child
o Since they were both old, Zechariah asked for a sign. He was saying God I cannot trust you, I really need some proof. He was like a doubting Thomas.
o The angel said that because he doubted, the sign or judgment would be that he wouldn’t be able to speak until the child was born
o When he emerged from the temple, the people realized he couldn’t speak and concluded that he must have seen a vision
o We are people who are not to doubt God; coming up with excuses why God won’t do what He said he would
o Otherwise God may bring judgment into our lives and faith community
o They were aged but remember God is not limited by our limitations
o In this story we will discover three attitudes needed to receive an answer from God.
A. Be willing to let God answer in His own TIME.
o According to His schedule, His timetable.
o I recall the year 2005
o The Holy Spirit had led us to resign at Southland Church even though my personal ministry was going well
o We made a commitment to the Lord to preach wherever he opened up the door
o The Holy Spirit clearly brought me to Acts 16:9 (my RHEMA)