Summary: Series on men and women’s prayers in the Bible made a difference and how prayer truly is a difference maker in our lives. I borrowed the outlines from SermonCentral Pro Contributor Tim Byrd.
Paul: The perplexity of prayer
Many years ago Garth Brooks sang a song called “Unanswered Prayers” and in this song he goes to a home town football game with his wife and they run in to one of his old girlfriends and his past comes back to him and he states in the song that she was the one that he wanted for all times and each night he spend praying that God would make her his and if God would only grant him this wish he wished back then he would never ask for anything again. He goes on to say that she’s not the person he’d remembered and they tried to talk about the old times but couldn’t recall much and then he makes this statement, “I guess the Lord knew what He was doing after all.” The chorus was: “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs that just because He doesn’t answer doesn’t mean He don’t care ’cause some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
Now I know it’s strange to open a sermon up with a country song, but tonight we are going to tackle the topic of what people call unanswered prayer. WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO THE PERPLEXING QUESTION OF UNANSWERED PRAYER? Is there really any such thing as unanswered prayer? I shared with some one several days ago about our prayer ministry getting started and how some of you have already taken the challenge to pray and how through those prayers we are seeing God do wonderful things. It never seizes to amaze me of how our loving God hears & answers our requests. We have seen so many folks saved and baptized some joining the church and others making rededications to live their life for Christ. I told this person, that because of our prayers we get to have a part in the victory of these folks life. God does answer prayers!!! Amen!!! God has given victory to these people.
But they asked me this question… Is all prayer victorious? I asked them what they meant. They said what about unanswered prayer. Now I know what they were saying, but let me share with you that I believe God answers all prayers it just may not be the way we want it answered and when He doesn’t answer it the way we want it we consider that unanswered prayer. However, I believe God answers prayer in 1 of 3 ways: Yes, No, Wait. So by saying unanswered prayer this person was saying that God had said no to their request, which in my opinion was answer to their prayer.
For the few months on Sunday evenings we have looked at the topic of “Prayers that have made a difference”. We have looked at the persistence of prayer; the posture of prayer; the proof of prayer; the price of prayer and the presumptuous prayer, and tonight we are going to finish our series on the perplexity of prayer?
Let’s face it Prayer can be perplexing. Some one prays for a spouse to be saved, but they remain unconverted. Parents pray for their children’s spiritual safety, but they go astray. Some one prays for a friend or family member with cancer to be healed, but God chooses to take them home. Example after example. To add to the perplexity is compounded by the biblical fact that God has promised to answer prayer. In Jeremiah 33:3 He says; “Call unto me and I will answer you.” In Matthew 7:7 Jesus says; “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” And in John 14:13 we read; “Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that I will do.”
You may be asking, Bro Travis, are you saying that what the Bible teaches is contrary to our own personal experience? Are you saying that God does not answer all prayers? That is not what I am saying. I repeat that is not what I’m saying. So what am I saying? Well, let’s take a look tonight at the topic of what people call unanswered prayer. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
I. The Misconception of Prayer.
The Bible does not teach that every prayer request is fulfilled, especially to our requirements. Moses prayed to enter the Promised Land, but died east of the Jordan. Jeremiah said in Lamentations; “You have covered yourself with a cloud that our prayer should not pass through.” One of the best examples we are given of requests being turned down is in our text tonight. We see God’s refusal to remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” after three requests.
Another misconception is of prayer itself. Too often our only concept of prayer is of asking for something. However, there are other ways of praying.