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Summary: A sermon that teaches us that there are four options when God answers our prayers.

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Four Answers to Prayer

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Introduction: Here awhile back I was listening to a message on prayer that suggested that instead of three answers to prayer that I had always taken for granted that there were actually four answers to prayer, that God answers our prayers in four different ways.

I. Sometimes the Answer Is What?

Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

II. Sometimes the Answer is I Won't.

Everyone who has ever studied the life of Paul has read and marveled at this episode in his life. Undoubtedly Paul had some issue that he was praying about. Some scholars think it was physical while others think it was something else. Whatever it was it was serious enough for Paul to pray about on at least three occasions. Let's look at the answer from God.

2 Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

III. Sometimes the Answer is I Will!

1 Kings 18:24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

PRAY TILL YOU GET COOKIES

We should be like the 3-year-old boy (that Paul Harvey told about) who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, "Now you're not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don't even ask."

She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child's seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, "Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?" She said, "I told you not even to ask. You're not going to get any at all." So he sat back down.

They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. "Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?" She said, "I told you that you can't have any. Now sit down & be quiet."

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, "In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?"

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