Summary: God Responds to Our Prayers in Four Ways

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Illustration:At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: "Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen."

Romans 8:26-29 we know four truths about prayer:

#1 The Holy Spirit helps us to know what and how to pray (verse 26)

#2 The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (verse 26)

#3 God hears our hearts more than the words in prayer (verse 27)

#4 Prayer is always answered (verses 28-29), though not always according to

our agenda.

...The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray

for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot

express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,

because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he

also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might

be the firstborn among many brothers.

#1 "No - Your request is not in God’s will."

After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had

borne to David, and he became ill... David pleaded with God for the child.

He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground

...He answered, ’While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I

thought, ’Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child

live...But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back

again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’ (I


#2 "Slow - Your request is not in God’s will at this time."

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ’Lord, the one you love is sick.’...Yet

when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more

days...So then he told them plainly, ’Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I

am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to

him.’...On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the

tomb for four days...When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice,

’Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with

strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ’Take off

the grave clothes and let him go.’ (Jn 11:3, 6, 14, 15, 17, 43, 44)

#3 "Grow - Your motives are wrong."

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that

you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Jms. 4:3)

#4 "Go - Your request, timing, and spiritual condition are okay. Yes!"

Elijah...prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the

land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain,

and the earth produced its crops. (Jms. 5:17b-19)

+Adapted from "Leading Life Changing Small Groups" by Bill Donahue,

Zondervan Press, pages 57, 58

© 2002 Dwight Hill, Business & Professional Ministries; a ministry of THE

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