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?

- Examples?

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…

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