Summary: First in a series setting out prayer as a conversation with God, this sermon deals primarily with the role of faith in prayer.
John 14:10-14 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name I will do it."
In his book, "The Necessity of Prayer," Dr. E. M. Bounds tells a story that had been told to him by a contemporary of his, A. C. Dixon. The story he told is the following: ""A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ’Rising early one morning,’ he said, ’I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God."
In order for us to grasp this concept of prayer as conversation with God we must understand that it is based on our faith in God.
Prayer and Faith are intertwined, prayer depends on our believing that God is ready and willing to hear our prayer. Mark 11:21-25 says this: "And Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ’Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
Just as the fawn had reached that point where it could only turn to one in trust that all would be well, so to do we come to those points in life where we must trust in someone greater than ourselves, for we have spent all that we are and have no more to give. So we must then reach out and believe that the one we reach out to, is able, where we are not. The statement that Jesus makes in Mark, "whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." In other words, realize that God hears, that what you are doing is within the heart of God to do, and you will receive that which you have asked.
No, you can’t have a Cadillac, or a Mercedes Benz, but I have a friend whose car had finally given up the ghost. It had over 300,000 miles on it and was not fixable. He prayed for God to bring him a car that he could afford, the next day a parishioner came by the house and asked if he could use a car. The parishioner had purchased a new one and his old one still ran OK and he wanted to give it to someone who had need. He said that he was praying and the Lord told him to bring it to his pastor.
So, in any attempt at conversation, we need to believe that the one we are conversing with, actually hears our conversation. Faith tells us that God hears, and not only that He hears but that He will act on our prayers in accordance with His will. At this point we also must think about the fact that for many, faith is no longer operative. We see in many quarters the failure of our brothers and sisters to keep their faith. We see too that the greater church has many problems, and it seems that God is not operative. Yet our faith should not depend on what is happening in other quarters, it must depend upon our experience of and communion with our Lord.