Summary: Dealing with the temptation to doubt God is listening, that prayer is ineffective

Review Series:

Temptation to—

Compare ourselves with others

Ignore our spiritual roles

To believe the God does not care—doubt

To be important—at the center of attention

To ignore our marriage vows

To be discontented with God’s provision

And Today—to doubt that God is listening to our prayers

Good news 1 Corinthians 10:13(MSG)

(1) Prayer is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines.

(a) Typically, we pray before meals and when we are called upon to pray.

(b) Sometimes, we pray when things are bad.

(c) Nevertheless, we often fail to have the attitude where we pray without ceasing—a somewhat constant conversation with God.

1 Thess. 5.16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(2) Why do we neglect prayer?

(a) Maybe we feel that God knows anyway, so why should we pray?

--but that is an excuse to hide the fact that we are undisciplined in prayer

(1) God commands us pray.

(2) Prayer helps us realize our dependence on God.

(3) Further, it is only a blessing that Christians can enjoy

1 Pet. 3.12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”

(b) Maybe we fail to understand how God answers prayer.

--Ever feel like the heavens were made of brass? Like the prayers you just offered rang back at you? Ever wonder if He was listening at all? I think all of us have gone through times like that..

You need to know this morning that

I. He does not answer our prayers begrudgingly

(Matt. 7.7-8): “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; hew who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Why don’t you and I break through in our prayer lives? Perhaps it is because we quit too early.

1. Our God is not bothered when we ask; rather, He tells us to ask.

a. All three imperatives here (ask, seek and knock) are in the present tense, “which indicates continuous, persistent prayer”

b. Remember the parable of the persistent widow who changed the judge’s mind by her persistence (Luke 18.1-8).

Jesus tells this parable of the widow who keeps going to the judge for justice—finally the judge does what she asks because, he said to himself, “ I will see that she gets justice, so that she wont eventually wear me out with her coming.” And Jesus said—“And will not God bring about justice for his [children]?

2. Paul says, “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5.17).

3. James 5:16 tells us, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”

4. As R. A. Torrey wrote, “If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.”

B. Our God wants us to talk to Him.

1. This extends far beyond prayers for food, etc.

2. Think of Jesus’ prayer as recorded in John 17.—Jesus prays for his himself, his disciples, even us!

3. This should not be “some mechanical, memorized declaration or speech” (Matt. 6.7).—not a formula for making God move—heartfelt cry of the heart and mind

And this morning you need to know that

II. He does not belittle us (Matt. 7.9-10): will you give your son a stone for bread?

A. Have you ever asked a dumb question?

1. Teachers say that no question is a dumb question.

2. Not everyone sees it that way because you can be teased.

3. Sometimes you can get someone angry by asking certain things.

B. God does not act that way; rather, He is glad to have us ask Him.

C. Further, God will not answer our prayers in an inappropriate, unloving manner.

1. He will not inflict evil upon us for our asking of Him.

2. He will not give us that which we do not need—selfish praying doesn’t work.

3. He will not give us that which will harm us.

III. God has a giving heart (Matt. 7.11):

A. If human fathers can give appropriate gifts to their children, then how much greater can our heavenly father do for us?

1. He is able to bless us with more than we can even imagine.

2. Remember Solomon who prayed for wisdom and was given wisdom but also riches and honor (cf. 1 Kings 3.13).

B. Why do I feel that God doesn’t answer sometimes?

1. Did we ask in faith?

James 1.5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind.”

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