Summary: God loves to answer prayer when we want what He wants.
The Promise of Answered Prayer
Rev. Brian Bill
Some of us find ourselves in precarious positions, like these guys up on the screen. While most of them seem to have chosen these circumstances, many of us have not asked for what we’re going through. We’re out on a ledge and we’re not sure how we’re going to get down. It might be a financial mess, a relational rupture, some family friction, a scary health situation, a recent loss of a loved one or an inner torment that no one else knows about.
We’ve been learning an important truth about God – He makes promises and it’s His nature to keep those promises. Kevin DeYoung has written: “The Christian life starts with the promises of God. He makes claims about himself and gives us promises. Then, having trusted in those promises, we respond in faith and obedience to God’s commands.”
I’m greatly challenged by what Charles Spurgeon once said, “Prayer is nothing but taking God’s promises to Him and saying, ‘Do as You have said...When you plead His promise, then your will is His will.”
I came across Psalm 145:13 in my Bible reading this week: “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.” So far we’ve looked at the promise of eternal life, the promise of victory, the promise of forgiveness and the promise of guidance. Our topic today is “The Promise of Answered Prayer” and the main point is this: God loves to answer prayer when we want what He wants.
As we continue in our Summer of Promise series, I want to draw our attention to a powerful prayer promise found in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” One of my goals today is that each of us will have this verse memorized by the time we’re finished. Let’s say it together.
The Text in Context
In order to grasp the greatness of this text, it’s important for us to understand the context. Jeremiah was a mouthpiece of the Almighty and was charged with delivering mostly bad news to God’s people. Known as the “weeping prophet” because of his many tears, he was also bold and brave when communicating God’s message.
Due to the deliberate disobedience of God’s people, after warning upon warning, God announced that they would be punished by Babylon. Their land would be decimated and they would be deported to a pagan land. In the midst of all this mess, God gives hope to Jeremiah by telling him to buy some property in Jeremiah 32:6-15, even though it didn’t make much sense because they were about to be conquered by this foreign army. This was God’s way of promising that His people would return, which they did, albeit 70 years later.
Speaking to Judah, the southern kingdom, Jeremiah’s message was not popular because it was not positive. With the Babylonian army surrounding the city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah conveyed these weighty words from God in Jeremiah 32:3: “I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.” Zedekiah, the king of Judah, was infuriated and therefore imprisoned the prophet.
As you read the book that bears his name, you’ll discover that Jeremiah was also thrown into a well, put in chains, and made a laughingstock. While most of us have not experienced anything like this, some of us can relate to feeling isolated, trapped, imprisoned by our past or chained to present habits.
God loves to answer prayer. In fact He promises to do so. That reminds me of the pastor who owned a parrot. All he would say is “Let’s pray, let’s pray.” While the preacher liked the spiritual nature of his feathered friend, he tried to teach him other sayings to no avail. He remembered that a deacon in the church also had a parrot with a similar problem, except that his parrot would only say, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” He decided to try an experiment and convinced the deacon to let the parrots spend some time together in the same cage to see what would happen. The deacon’s parrot immediately exclaimed, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” To which the preacher’s parrot said, “Thank you Lord, my prayers have been answered.”
Let’s look at the first three verses in Jeremiah 33 to see how God promises to answer our prayers.
Remember God’s Presence
Check out verse 1 where we see that God is always present: “While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time.” Jeremiah was confined, locked up and alone. He felt ignored, rejected and despised. Friend, no matter how alone you feel, you are never alone if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We’ll learn more about the promise of God’s presence on August 21st at our Praise in the Park service.