Summary: There are four attitudes i believe we need in order to have answered to our prayers
HOW TO RECEIVE AN ANSWER FROM GOD
Power Through Prayer - Part 4
Pastor Jeff Seaman
We’re in a series of messages on "Power Through Prayer". The first week we talked about the four purposes of prayer. The second week we talked about the five conditions of prayer. Last week we talked about How to pray for a miracle.
Today I want to talk to you about how God answers prayer or "How to Receive An Answer From God." There are four attitudes I believe we need in order to have answers to our prayers.
I heard a story one time about a young girl who wrote a letter to a missionary. It was a prayer letter and she was trying to lend her support to the missionary. Evidently she’d been told not to request a response to her letter because the missionaries were very busy. So the missionary got a kick out of her letter. It said, "Dear Mr. Missionary, we are praying for you. But we are not expecting an answer."
I think that little girl summarized the prayers lives of most Christians. We do a lot of praying, but we don’t expect an answer. Why doesn’t God answer? We’re going to look at that today. How does God answer? We need four attitudes in order to receive an answer from God.
1. You must be willing to let God answer in His own time.
That means according to His schedule, His time table. In other words -- whenever God thinks it’s best. The fact is, God often delays answers to prayers. He doesn’t answer everything immediately. Why? Why does He wait? Why does He withhold the gift sometimes for a period of time?
I think that was the reason Zechariah’s was so skeptical. Sometimes I have a hard time believing God’s going to answer my prayers. But I believe if God sent a special deliverer angel to meet me face to face and say, "Jeff, I’m here to tell you, God has answered your prayer." I think I’d be convinced. I think I would be pretty certain it was going to happen.
Zechariah’s was an amazing guy. An angel comes and says, "God sent me here. I am Gabriel, the archangel and you’re going to have your prayer answered." Then Zechariah’s says in v. 18 "How can I be sure of this?" He’s the ultimate skeptic. Why didn’t he believe it?
Because he had stopped praying that prayer years before. If you read the passage casually it looks like "He went into the temple. He prayed. And the angel came and said, `Your prayers been answered.’" But the fact of the matter is, they had given up on this prayer years earlier. Zechariah’s said, "I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." (That’s diplomacy!) He says, "We gave up on that prayer a long time ago."
The fact is, God often delays. And the first principle is you’ve got to let God answer in His own time. v. 13 "The angel said to him, `Don’t be afraid Zechariah’s, your prayer had been heard’" The tense of the word "heard" literally means it’s already happened. It happened a long time ago.
God answers our prayers immediately, but sometimes there’s a delay in the giving of the gift. He hears it immediately. There’s no problem with it taking time for your prayer to get to God. It is there instantly. But sometimes He delays the giving of the answer for a period of time and that is one of the hardest things we have to learn.
As a parent, the hardest concept for my kids to learn is this. They don’t understand the difference between "no" and "not yet". It’s hard for them. They’ll say, "Daddy, can I have a cookie?" Not yet. They might go into a fit like I’m never going to give them a cookie. Why? Because immature people don’t understand the difference between "no" and "not yet". The mark of maturity in the Christian life is this: How long can you wait? That’s a mark of maturity in life. Babies always have to have it immediately. But a mature person can wait.
I talked to a person once who said, "I tried prayer. I prayed for two weeks and nothing happened so I’ve given up on prayer. I’ve lost my faith in prayer." No, you haven’t lost your faith. You’ve lost your patience. You spell faith -- PATIENCE. Faith is patience.
Why does God delay our answers to prayer? Usually it’s because He needs to prepare us first. He needs to get us ready. He wants to bless us and in order to give that blessing to us, He has to prepare us for it. My little boy comes to me and says, "Daddy, can I drive the car today?" He’s a four year old! I say, "Not today. Someday you’ll get to drive the car. When you grow up and you’re mature and you’ve learned how to drive, then you’ll get the request answered. But not yet, because you need to grow up." God waits many times to answer our prayer for us to grow up.