Summary: Looking at the perplexity of unanswered prayer
THE PERPLEXITY OF PRAYER
“ I asked… but God said…”
Date: September 1, 2002 P.M. Service
Place: Allendale Baptist
Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO THE PERPLEXING QUESTION OF UNANSWERED PRAYER?
I shared with some one several days ago about our prayer ministry and the wonderful things God has been doing. It never seizes to amaze me of how our loving God hears & answers our requests. We have seen so many folks receive healing others have been saved some join the church and make rededications to live their life for Christ.
I told this person, I feel like I have had a part in the victory of these folks life. God does answer prayers!!! God has given victory to these.
But they asked me this question… Is all prayer so victorious? I asked what do you mean. They said what about unanswered prayer.
For several 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.
But what about as one has called this the perplexity of prayer?
Prayer is perplexing. Some one prays for a spouse to be saved, but remains unconverted. Parents pray for their children’s spiritual safety, but they go astray. Example after example. If we are honest and made 2 lists, one of answered and the other unanswered, the unanswered would probably be longer.
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 Tim, are you saying what the Bible teaches is contrary to our own personal experience? That God does not answer all prayers? That is not what I am saying.
But let’s look tonight at unanswered prayer.
First I believe we have we have misconceptions about prayer
A. The Bible does not teach that every prayer request is fulfilled. Especially to our requirements.
1. Moses prayed to enter the Promised Land, but died east of the Jordan.
2. Jeremiah said in Lamentations; “You have covered yourself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through
3. One of the best examples we are given of requests being turned down is in the text, God’s refusal to remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” after three requests.
B. Another misconception is of prayer itself. Too often our only concept of prayer is of asking for something.
C. There are prayers of
1. Adoration: Psalms 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
2. Prayers of Thanksgiving: Psalms 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give thanks to you.”
3. Prayers of confession: Psalms 51:3 “I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.”
4. Prayers of consecration; Psalms 119:33-34
D. So there is much more to prayer than asking or the petitioning. Although important we should neither maximize it nor minimize it
Another reason of unanswered prayer is our misuse of prayer
A. Many of our prayers are never answered because the come from our own selfish ambitions and desires for pleasure.
1. Isn’t it strange to hear those pray like they are calling upon God as they would room service in some hotel?
2. I heard the story of a French king that prayed to be allowed to sin “Just one more time”.
3. Don’t laugh. It’s true. A young lady told me once she had meet a young man and she had been praying for a boyfriend. This boy was not saved and she prayed and asked God if it would be okay if she had sex with him. Sad isn’t it of the misuse of prayer.
B. Another misuse of prayer is to ask God for something while harboring sin in our lives
1. Psalms 66: 18 tells us; “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
C. So many times as I look back, the sign of God’s love for me was to say no my request.
D. Maybe we need to come to the realization that no is also an answer. Sometimes God has to say no to our request in order to give us what we really need
1. Augustine tells how his mother prayed all night that he would not sail for Italy. Augustine was not a Christian at the time. She was afraid if he left her influence he would never give his life to Christ. But God did not answer that request, Augustine left for Italy. While he was in Italy he met Ambrose, who led him to Christ.