Summary: This sermon tells how whether or not God gives us what we ask for, he always answers our prayers.
Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
Pentecost XVI Sept. 19, 2004 John 14:1-14
¡§The Answer to Prayer¡¨
Do you know how to pray? The good news is that the Bible says that God himself helps us to pray. (¡§Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words ¡V Rmns 8:26.¡¨)So we are pretty safe that when we pray, we¡¦re doing it right¡Kbecause God helps us get it right.
Did you know that there is only one thing we know for sure the disciples asked Jesus how to do?
They didn¡¦t ask Jesus how to be fishers of men. The disciples did not ask Jesus how to preach. The disciples did not ask Jesus to ask them how to run a church committee ¡V I wish they had! They DID ask Jesus to teach them to pray! Of all the things you and I might imagine they¡¦d want some help with, this might be the last! (Lk. 11:1)
Praying isn¡¦t that hard. Parents pray for their children. Students pray to pass their exams. People looking for work pray to get hired. A young man will pray that the pretty girl he is asking for a date will say ¡§yes.¡¨ Soldiers pray for God¡¦s protection. Military chaplains get more soldiers at services when a battle looms.
What are most of our prayers like? Are we forever asking God for things?
How is your prayer life? Barbara Brown Taylor is probably the most brilliant female preacher in our country today. In a recent article she wrote about things she knows she should do more of ¡V included in the list was ¡V ¡§pray more.¡¨
Jesus makes an incredible promise this morning. Let me repeat John 14:14 for you: 14If in my name you ask me„T for anything, I will do it. That is some promise! Do you believe that? Do you think it is true? I do.
I believe every prayer is answered.
That doesn¡¦t mean every prayer is granted. If you ask for an ¡§A¡¨ in your exam and only get a B-, it doesn¡¦t mean God didn¡¦t answer your prayer. Do you know what it means if you prayed for an A and got a B-? It means you should have studied more. God is not a vending machine. God is not a cosmic Santa Claus granting our every wish.
So if you want to know about the answer to prayer, you need to know something about prayer. You don¡¦t have to be a Christian to know that there is a rough parallel between a subject going to a king for the king to grant the subject a favor within the power of the king to grant. So, you, the weak one, go to the one with power for something you want. The king then decides whether or not he wants to give it to you.
My guess is this is how most people think of prayer.
So we need to ask, is this how the New Testament talks of God? Is God the all powerful grantor or withholder of what people want?
What did Jesus call God? Better ¡V what did he tell us to call God? Father! Our FATHER who art in heaven.
Now when you want something from your father, is it just a question of you wanting something your father can give or refuse to give? Well it may sound like that when you want the car keys Friday night! But while may seem like a pressing issue to a teenager at the moment, no young person would characterize his or her relationship with their father that way. There is love, respect, caring, guidance, discipline, many, many things¡Kwith love at the root of it all.
So from that example, what do we learn about prayer? We learn that prayer is a relationship.
Prayer is a meeting.
Prayer is a coming together.
When a young person goes on a date¡Kit isn¡¦t so important whether you go see Spiderman II or Shrek II. It doesn¡¦t matter so much if a couple on a date goes to Charlie Brown¡¦s or Old Man Rafferty¡¦s. It matters that young man and young woman are together.
A survey was done of boys before Father¡¦s Day. The surveyors asked what the most important things about a father were. The answers were things like, he plays catch with me. He shows me his work. He takes me on errands with him. Every single answer in the top ten had to do with a father spending time with his son. It is all about a coming together. It didn¡¦t matter whether they went to Dorney Park or the Car Parts store ¡V it mattered they went together.