Summary: The talks from a Seeker Service on "’unanswered’ prayer". The three ’talks’ were spread over the whole of the 1 hr service, which included video snippets, drama etc.
“If only prayers were answered” Jas 4:2b, 3 WBC 12.1.3 am Seeker Service
You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
1 Intro- does prayer work?
What’s amazing is just how many people pray. Far more do then don’t, I reckon
- particularly in crisis!
- Nobody believes in God more… prays more… than a drowning man!
o How many of us have prayed ‘God, get me out of here’, and then
Nonchalantly said ‘oh, every cloud has a silver lining’ –if circumstances change
Blamed Him for putting us there in the first place- if they don’t change
Actually taken a big step towards Him- if we felt they were answered
• Some have come to faith that way
o (cf ‘catch me if you can’)
But (ask cong) does prayer work?
- Does He answer prayers? Make a difference?
o Me: praying for Mrs C, & her getting extraordinary sense of God
o My Mum and aunt Joyce at healing service
o Stranded in Siberia. Camera lost in Miami
o Strong sense of just knowing that I could pray re meeting someone and I did!
o Praying for 70 yr old diabetic with ulcers (Jean Gamgee)
o Nigeria- dramatic miracles. No doubt that big majority are v real. (raised from dead)
Jn 14:13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Mt 17:20 I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. "
Gosh – sounds a pretty high commendation (from a ‘man’ that we trust!) JESUS said ‘prayer DOES work’
- and at an initial glance almost seems like carte blanche
So- let’s start there.
’Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance: it is laying hold of His highest willingness’ Richard Chenevix, Archbishop Trench
And what about people who aren’t trying to follow Jesus? Does He hear their prayers?
- well, could argue that if they’re praying they are starting to… on… their way to God?
- And there’s plenty of evidence in the Bible of God hearing the requests of people ‘not fully there’, yet
o Syro Phoenician woman Mt 15:27 Cornelius Acts 10
So- I believe fully: God hears and answers prayers
’Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God’ Anon
Chris W testimony
2- But it’s not that simple
Prayer does work!
- but, as I said, it’s at an initial, superficial glance, that it appears like a carte blanche
o the Bible, and experience shows us the reality is it is far from as simple as that.
Note my most recent quote: ’Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God’ Anon
We have to understand that prayer is not a slot machine for getting what WE want
Agnes Sanford in ’The healing touch of God’: ’Prayer is not a matter of getting what we want the most. Prayer is a matter of giving ourselves to God and learning His laws, so that He can do through us what He wants the most’
- and the Lord’s prayer teaches us to pray along the lines of ‘give us this day our daily bread’
o ie our NEEDS, not our whims
o “your father KNOWS what you need, but seek first HIS kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given you as well”
So- we are to ask for our NEEDS … and to pray for His Kingdom and His WILL to be done
- “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
o this is what is conveyed in ‘asking anything in my name”
ie we can ask for anything that is in line with Jesus’ will… this book… and He will do it
So- there are some prayers God ALWAYS answers…
- “save me”… “help me” …. “forgive me”
o “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord WILL be saved”
… and some He doesn’t always answer
- (or maybe I should say He DOES answer, but it may not always be in the immediate affirmative)
- “heal me… them” (as not everyone in Bible is healed)
- “deliver me”
o don’t let them die
Peter delivered from death. James beheaded (Acts)
- “May it go smoothly”
CERTAINLY we are praying for… believe there should be… a greater demonstration of God’s delivering, healing, power than we see…