Summary: What goes through your mind when you think of prayer?
“I Am Heard”
What goes through your mind when you think of prayer? If I were to say at the beginning of the service that we are not going to have any music or sermon or anything else this morning, we are just going to pray together for an hour, what would you’re reaction be?
Let me put it another way. Would you like to have a real face to face conversation with the living God of the universe? If I said, today Jesus is here in the flesh and he is going to have a conversation with us. What would your reaction be to that?
My guess is that those two reactions would be quite different. Yet, in some ways they are saying the same thing. What is prayer? Well on the surface it seems like a one way conversation where the recipient of our words may or may not be listening, and certainly rarely speaks. If we’re honest, quite often when we pray, we’re not sure if anything is being accomplished, it’s often just something we do because that’s what you do when you’re a Christian. You float something up there and hope it reaches someone, and if it does somehow reach someone, you hope that they hear it and answer you or respond.
What do you usually pray? If you’re like most of us, the most common prayer that we make sure we don’t forget is before we eat. We might not do it before breakfast or lunch maybe, but usually we will do it before supper, especially if we have visitors, and especially visitors from the church.
We often pray for health, we pray for others who are struggling in some way and need God to intervene. And we pray for God to intervene in our own struggles, often to end the struggle somehow or to give us wisdom and guidance through it.
Nothing wrong with any of those prayers, and once in a while we really see them answered, but more often we don’t, certainly not in the way we were hoping for. So prayer becomes this little side thing we throw up when we think about it or when desperate, and if we’re honest, we do it without always thinking that it will be answered.
What I want us to know today is that God does hear us, we are heard by God. But I do think it’s somewhat conditional. If we look at 1 John 5:14 “And this is the confidence we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” The condition there is that it must be according to his will.
In the Psalms it’s very clear that David is certain that God hears and answers his prayers. In 1 Peter 3 we hear that as husbands if we don’t treat our wives as precious and with understanding as God commands, our prayers will be hindered, or literally “cut off”.
Let’s go to verse 14 of Ephesians 3, which is the first verse of our text today. Now this is going to be the strongest point I make today and it has to do with how we approach God in our hearts. Verse 14 is actually a continuation of a broken sentence in verse 1. So if we put those two together we have, “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ (by the way he says this again as he starts the next chapter) on behalf of you Gentiles, bow my knees before the Father, from which every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Stop there.
I want us to first of all note the posture Paul is taking. He mentions how he is a prisoner of God, in other words in complete submission. He is bowing his knees, and he is acknowledging essentially that God is creator and ongoing sovereign Lord of all creation.
I believe this is what is meant by being in His will, or even in the name of Jesus. “The name of Jesus” essentially being the character of Jesus, or how he was when he walked the earth. Which was? What would you say was the primary character of Jesus? Would it not be that he was in complete submission to God even unto death?
John 5:19, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing.”