Summary: A deductive exposition of the text introduced by statistics and stories of answered prayer.
Theme: Answered Prayer
Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness calling God’s people in my care to pray with persistence and humility.
Response: Individuals will ponder God’s grace in answering our prayers.
Pattern: A deductive exposition of the text introduced by statistics and stories of answered prayer.
Do you believe God answers prayer? Odds are pretty good that since you’re in church today that you do. But what about people outside the church?
Do you think Americans believe in prayer?
What do you think the percentage of Americans that pray every day is? 75%
What do you think the percentage of Americans who say they have had prayers answered might be? 95%
Citation: Life, 3/94. "To Verify," Leadership. © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
What would you expect to be the percentage of Americans who believe God hears their prayers and has the power to answer them? 86%
Citation: Barna Associates, cited in National & International Religion Report, 3/6/95. "To Verify," Leadership. © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
This may be a little harder. What do you think the percentage of Americans is who pray in order to forgive others? 86%
How many pray for forgiveness for themselves? 92%
Citation: Gallup Poll, cited in Facts & Trends. "To Verify," Leadership. © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
Do you think God always answers prayer the way we expect?
Not necessarily right? A woman from Fremont, Michigan tells this story about an unexpected answer to prayer.
When three of [her] sons were in college, they formed a trio that sang at various churches. One night they were singing when a fly started buzzing around their heads. Greg, one of the boys, breathed a quick prayer that the Lord would get rid of that fly. God answered in an unexpected way. When Greg opened his mouth to sing, the fly flew in. The song ended abruptly, but the fly was taken care of.
Citation: Jean Johnson, Fremont, Mich. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare." © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
A missionary wrote about a time when God surprised her family with His answer to their prayers. She said:
We were in need of passage money to return to our work in Switzerland. In faith, we set a date that the children and I began "praying towards." We contemplated sending out a letter informing people of this need, but kept deciding against it--"Let’s just pray about it for the time being. "Less than three weeks before the date, the money began to come in. It was a direct answer to prayer, because I never did mail any letters. And the love gifts did not come from any of the sources I had had in mind when praying. It was as though God said, "It is not necessary to bring the money from those places you think are possibilities. I am able to make it all a surprise to you, my child."
Citation: Edith Schaeffer in With Love, Edith. Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 4. © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
The fact is that God seems to answer our prayers in surprising ways on a fairly consistent basis. That’s why one pastor says we should expect the unexpected when we pray. He wrote:
We all tend to prescribe the answers to our prayers. We think that God can come in only one way. But Scripture teaches us that God sometimes answers our prayers by allowing things to become much worse before they become better. He may sometimes do the opposite of what we anticipate. ...Yet it is a fundamental principle in the life and walk of faith that we must always be prepared for the unexpected when we are dealing with God.
Citation: D. Martyn Lloyd Jones in Faith: Tried and Triumphant. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 8. © 2001 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, International
THE BOTTOM LINE:
God does ANSWER prayer.
So, how can we pray in order for God to answer?
1. Jesus gave part of the answer when He told the Story of the PERSISTENT Widow (Luke 18:1-8).
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.’
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ "
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"