Summary: A classic sermon by Adrian Rogers that asks the question, "Why would God say no to prayer?"
This sermon from the Adrian Rogers Legacy Library © 2010 Rogers Family Trust. Used by permission. www.pastortraining.com www.adrianrogerslibrary.com
Be finding the book of James, it's back toward the back of the New Testament and turn to chapter 4 and when you've found it, look up here. And I remind you of what you ought to already know--that prayer is the Christian's greatest privilege and alas, alas, it is so often our greatest failure. Now there's no substitute for prayer. You can substitute many things, but there's no substitute for prayer--not energy, not enthusiasm, not intellect, not intent. There is no substitute for prayer. We need to learn how to pray.
James talks to us today about some prayer problems. Look if you will in chapter 4: "From whence come wars and fightings among you." Now let me just stop right here before we read the rest of this and say that there are two major problems that James mentions in these few verses that we're going to read, the first four verses. Two major problems concerning prayer. More than that, but two major ones and I want you to see if you can spot them while I read. "From whence come wars and fightings among you. Come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members. Ye lust and have not, ye kill and desire to have and cannot obtain, ye fight and war, yet ye have not because you ask not. Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Now, what are the two great problems that James mentions in that passage of scripture? First of all, there is the problem of unasked prayer. Sometimes we just don't pray. "Ye have not," why? huh, "because ye ask not." God wants to load you with benefits, God wants to bless you, God has invited you, "Call upon me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you know not," but James says you don't have because you don't ask. So there is the problem of unoffered prayer.
But there's another problem here and that's the problem of unanswered prayer. It is that people ask, but he says, "Ye ask and receive not." So, which is the greater problem? Well, either one of them causes our prayers not to be answered. You see, God responds to our prayers in about four basic ways, and all of this is by way of introduction. Sometimes the answer to prayer may be direct, God just says yes. We ask God for something and God just says, All right, my child, you ask, here it is, and God gives us exactly, precisely, immediately what we ask. I love to pray that way, I love just to say, Lord, I need so and so and he says, All right, here it is, my child. And I think we've all, if we've walked with the Lord for many days, we've seen that kind of an answer to prayer, I mean beyond coincidence, beyond any happenstance, we say, Yes, this has the hallmark of God, this has the stamp of God upon it. So, first of all the answer may be direct and God says yes.
Sometimes the answer may be different and God says better. Now if God doesn't give you what you ask, he may give you something far better than you ask, and so the answer may not be direct, it may be different. You ask one thing and God gives you something else. For the Bible says, "We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us." And so sometimes the Holy Spirit says, Adrian is asking this, Father, but this is what he needs and give him not what he asks, but give him something better than he asks. "And he is able to do exceedingly above all that we can ask or think," that's what the Bible says.
And so thank God sometimes that the answer is direct, sometimes the answer is different, and then sometimes the answer is delayed, isn't that true? I mean, the Bible says, "Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you." The Bible says, "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you," that's in Matthew 7 I believe, but the Greek verb is keep on asking, keep on knocking, keep on seeking, keep on keeping on, because the Bible says, "Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you." With God the timing is more important than time and so the Bible says, "You have need of patience that you may be perfect." That doesn't mean without any flaw, it means mature, and so if you want to be mature, sometimes God makes you wait. It's like sometime a child waiting for Christmas, and then Christmas may be all the better.