Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Many prayers went up for my wife's healing after the discovery of an aggressive brain tumor. She died in March of 2018. God said NO to her healing in this world. How do we respond when the answer is ,'No'?

1. 2 Corinthians 12.5-10

2. God’s Timing

A young man visited the father of his girlfriend to ask the father’s permission to marry his daughter. To his surprise, the father said “No.” The young man thought it was a formality; the father took it much more seriously. The father explained to the young man that there were character and behavioral issues in the young man’s life that concerned him. If he would agree to work on those issues, they could talk again about marriage.

Timing in life is often a puzzle to us. We ask God for something and we wonder why He doesn’t immediately say “Yes.” Even more puzzling, God is aware of our needs even before we ask (Matthew 6:8), so why doesn’t He just provide what we need without our having to ask? Jesus once initially told a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit to “Let the children be filled first” (Mark 7:27); He only healed one person out of all the sick at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15); and He waited four days before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Delays are only from our perspective. God’s timing and reasons are always perfect (Romans 8:28-29).

3. Our typical response to “unanswered” prayer is that it IS answered, just, “Wait,” “No, it’s not my will,” or, “No, I have something better in mind.”

4. When Linda passed, there had been literally thousands of prayers for her over the 3.5 months from diagnosis to her death. Churches in OK; TX; NM; TN; FL; AL; KY as well as individuals. I CRIED OUT daily.

a. God said, “No” to her healing here and that he had something better – healing in his presence.

b. That was not my/our prayer

c. Where’s the glory in this?

• [Song that ran through my head while she was in the hospital – “How Great is Our God”

• God’s glory may be seen yet in this world or reserved for the world to come

5. In this I have a choice – continue trusting God, even when I can’t see/understand OR walk away

6. The scenario with Linda has given me a deeper perspective on prayer and what we are about as fully devoted followers of Jesus and I want to share a couple of perspectives this morning

I. Lesser Approaches to Prayer

A. The Making it About ME Approach – 2 Corinthians 12.6-7

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

1. Paul had numerous revelations and was in danger of conceit, thus the thorn

2. Paul’s first prayer attempts – “Fix this for me.”

3. Paul’s satisfaction –12. 9-10

9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

B. A Shopping List Approach

1. Expect God to fill our list of requests almost like Aladdin and the Genie

2. We get annoyed if he doesn’t do what we ask

3. Q: How do our prayers compare with the prayers we read in the Bible such as Paul’s

80-90% of our prayers are about:

• Health

• Safety

• Job issues

• Child issues

• Success on an exam [USNA – god of 2.0

• Mortgage applications. . . .

These requests aren’t wrong, there is just more

4. Biblical prayers focus on God’s Will and His Kingdom more than our comforts – this is why Jesus and the early followers of Jesus could be bold in their discomfort

5. A Practical suggestion – when making prayer requests, add “So that” to the prayer and see the real reason you are praying.

II. A Better Approach to Prayer

Definition of Prayer: Prayer is intimacy with God for HIS purposes. ~ Daniel Henderson

A. What about the Promises?

1. Didn’t Jesus come to serve? Mark 10.45

2. Mustard Seed Faith -- Luke 17.6

And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

3. Ask, Seek, Knock – Matthew 7.7

4. Ask in His Name – John 14.3

5. He gives the desires of our hearts – Psalm 37.4

6. Call to him and he answers – Jeremiah 33.3

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