Summary: How can I get an answer from God for my prayer?
I saw an article this week called, “A mothers unanswered prayer for self-improvement.” The article is about a woman named Jean Olsen who wanted to be a better mum.
Jean took her 9 year old daughter Kirsten out for a mother-daughter lunch and while they were eating, she asked her daughter, "How do you think I could be a better mum?" Kirsten thought for a moment and then said, "Well, you do yell a lot. I know you’ve been praying about that, but it isn’t really working yet."
Almost everyone comes to a point in their lives where they wonder if prayer really works. Sometimes doubts begin to rise and you wonder, “How is it I can sincerely ask God to help me but he doesn’t seem to answer?”
Today we’re kicking off on our series, “Too Busy Not To Pray.” I hope you’ve joined one of our home groups – because in our home groups we’re looking at the topic of prayer in-depth.
But this-morning I want you to think about this question, “How can I get an answer from God for my prayer?”
Maybe you’ve sincerely tried to pray but you’re still not getting any answers. If that’s true for you, then this-morning I want to encourage you to follow along as we do some spiritual house-keeping. I want to show you four attitudes that can block God’s answer to your prayers.
And the first is this. If you want to receive an answer from God ....
1. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LET GOD ANSWER IN HIS OWN TIME
Sometimes we can get impatient while we wait for an answer from God. But it’s not always in our best interest for God to answer our prayers right away.
A wise parent doesn’t give a child everything they ask for first-time, every time and anytime they ask for it. Sometimes it’s in the child’s best interest to wait.
Once, when I was 9 years old, I was helping my dad clear some land. I’d gathered a huge pile of dry grass, branches and leaves. Now, he was on one side of the block burning off the rubbish he’d collected, so I went and asked him for a match so I could burn mine. I thought that was logical. But there was no way he was going to give me a match.
It’s not always in our best interest for God to give us what we want right when we want it. Sometimes he delays answering our prayers for our own good. God often delays answering our prayers because we are not mature enough yet to get what we are asking for.
Being willing to wait for something you want or even need, is a sign of maturity. Not being willing to wait is a sign of immaturity. This might be why there has been a delay in answering your prayers? God has something else to show you, some growing for you to do before he answers your prayer.
This wasn’t the reason why Zechariah and Elizabeth’s answer was delayed. In verse 6 we’re told that they were upright and blameless and kept faithfully serving God despite their disgrace and disappointment in not having a child. But maybe this is something like where God has you right now.
But I want to encourage you. You need to know that God’s delays are not God’s denials! If you want an answer to your prayer, you must be willing to allow God to answer in his own time.
God was shaping Zechariah and Elizabeth. He wanted someone He could trust to not deny Him when their prayers weren’t being answered right away. He wanted to answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers in a miraculous way - and so he made them wait.
Media tycoon Ted Turner has often been critical of Christianity. Once he made a comment on his experience of prayer ... Turner said he had a strict Christian upbringing and at one time considered becoming a missionary. But he said he became disenchanted with Christianity after his sister died, “despite his prayers.”
Turner gave up on prayer – in fact he gave up on God - because he didn’t get what he wanted when he wanted it!
We have all considered giving up on prayer at one time or another. We get discouraged and quit praying because deep down we wonder if prayer really makes any difference. In Zechariah and Elizabeth’s case, God wanted to do something greater than they had asked for. He trusted them because they didn’t give up on Him when their prayers seemed to be going unanswered.
Have you given up on God? Have you given up because you think he hasn’t answered your prayer yet? Or, are you still faithfully serving Him despite the delay in getting what you have been praying about? Can God trust you to hang in there with him even when the answers to your prayers are delayed?