Summary: This is a focus on Jesus and his teaching about how God answers prayer. Sometimes he answers with Presents (gifts/literal blessings) and sometimes he answers with something better, his Presence.
1. Many Uses for Prayer
A young man goes into a drug store to buy 3 boxes of chocolate. The pharmacist asks, ”What size, small medium or large?” "One of each." he said, "I’ve been seeing this girl for a while and she’s really beautiful. I want the chocolate because I think tonight¡¦s "the" night. We’re having dinner with her parents, and then we’re going out. If she lets me hold her hand I’m going to give her the small box if she lets me kiss her on the cheek I’m going to give her the medium box and if she lets me kiss her on the lips I’m going to give her the big box. The young man makes his purchase and leaves. Later that evening, he sits down to dinner with his girlfriend and her parents. He asks if he might give the blessing, and they agree. He begins the prayer, but continues praying for several minutes. The girl leans over and says, "You never told me that you were such a religious person." He leans over to her and says, "You never told me that your father is a pharmacist."
2. When we pray we anticipate God’s answer
a. James 1.17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
b. An Answered Prayer: “A true story: Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was scared to death, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took a hold on the rope, and started up the face of that rock.
She got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda’s eye and knocked out her contact lens. Here she is on a rock ledge, with hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn’t there. Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it.
When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down, despondent, with the rest of the party, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff. She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that Bible verse that says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."
Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey! Any of you guys lose a contact lens?" Well, that would be startling enough, until you learn why the climber saw it. An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it!” Who do you think told that ant to pick up that contact lens and carry it? It was God, of course. Why would the ant pick it up; it’s not food. What do you think this woman gained through this experience? She gained a better understanding of how great God is and how much he cares for her.
c. God always answers prayer: Yes; No; Not Yet; Something Better (an alternative to what you ask)
4. Lessons from these parallel passages
I. The Generosity and Sensitivity of God
A. God Gives His Presents (Blessings)
1. God provides the necessities of life and more in many cases (Ephesians 3.20-21)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
2. He does not mock his children
• Stone; Serpent; Scorpion (unclean things)
• Luke 11.13
• Matthew 7.12
3. He gives us what HE wants and what we need
William Barclay wrote, “True prayer is asking God for what He wants.”
B. God Gives His Presence
Luke 11.13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”