Summary: This sermon will give us the five conditions for answered prayer
THE FIVE CONDITIONS OF ANSWERED PRAYER
Power Through Prayer - Part 2
John 15:7 & Selected
John 15. We’re in a series of messages called "Power Through Prayer". Last week we talked about the four purposes of prayer. You’ve probably had people say to you, "I tried prayer and it didn’t work. I had a need and prayed about it. After I’d prayed for a while, nothing happened and I didn’t see any results. I’m disappointed and I don’t believe in prayer." If we were honest we’d probably all say there are thousands of prayer that go up but there are very few answers that come down. Why is that? What causes that? Is prayer a farce, a superstition, something we just con ourselves into and pretend that it works but it really doesn’t? What is prayer?
There’s a deeper question than that. Does God promise to answer everyone’s prayers?
No. It’s very clear in scripture that God completely ignores some people’s prayers. In fact, the Bible says that God has laid out some conditions to answered prayer. Five, to be specific.
I want us to look at those conditions because until you meet the conditions for answered prayer, you’re wasting your breath.
What are the five conditions for answered prayer?
If you meet these conditions you have every right to expect that what you ask for will be answered in prayer.
1. John 15:7 You must have an honest relationship to God. "If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you." That’s a beautiful promise. But in Scripture every promise has a condition or every promise has a premise. The promise here is, "I will give you whatever you ask in prayer if you remain in Me." In other words, "...if you have a honest relationship with Me."
How do you remain in Christ? The next sentence tells it. By my words remaining in you. In other words, God says if we fill our minds with the Bible, the word of God, then we will be in Christ. We will be abiding in Him. God requires that we listen to Him first before He listens to us. If I don’t pay attention to what God says to me in His word, why should He pay attention to me when I talk to Him? If I ignore His word, why should He pay attention to what I say to Him?
The starting point is you have an honest relationship to God. How? Through the word of God. That’s why Bible study is important. You say, "Are you saying if I don’t study my Bible I won’t have answered prayer?" No, what I’m saying your prayer life will never be more affective than how much you understand scripture. The more you understand the Bible the more you’ll know how to pray affectively.
Three questions on how to evaluate if you have an honest relationship to God. 1 John gives us questions on how to evaluate ourselves on if we have an honest relationship to God.
1. 1 John 1. Do I or have I refused to admit things that I have done wrong in the past? The Bible says that’s called unconfessed sin. It may be an activity, an attitude, a habit. When we go our own way, do our own thing, it breaks the connection between us and God. When we try to cover up things that we know are wrong from God then that honest relationship is broken. There’s a falseness, a con, a fraud, trying to live two different lives at once -- live for God and live for myself. So the first thing I ask if I’m really being honest with God is have I admitted what I’ve done wrong.
Psalm 66:18 says of I regard or cherish or try to hide sin in my heart the Lord will not hear. Isaiah 59:2 says our sins, our wrongness, separates us from God. Proverbs 28:13 says "He who tries to conceal his sin cannot prosper but he who admits them, confesses them, forsakes them will have mercy."
What do you do? 1 John 1:8 "If we claim to be without sin, we’re just deceiving ourselves. The truth is not in us. However, if we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." What is confession? Confession is simply being honest with God. It’s saying, "God, You’re right. I was wrong. That jealousy or that impatience was wrong. Please forgive me." The first way we can tell if we have an honest relationship with God is are we being honest when we make mistakes. "God, You’re right. That was a mistake. That was wrong. It was an error."