Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Why does God seem deaf at times when we pray according to His promises?

JAMES 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

How many of you are familiar with that scripture? How many of you believe it? Now, how many of you wonder why God hasn’t answered certain prayers of yours? It’s OK, I wonder why too! "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." If God isn’t answering our prayers is it because we are not righteous enough? You say "I’ve done all I can...I have confessed my sins...wept, fasted, and fervently petitioned God in true faith...yet nothing seems to happen. God seems to be silent on certain issues.

If that describes you, know that you are not some strange kind of Christian suffering chastisement from the Lord. The delayed answer to prayer is one of the most common experiences shared by even the saintliest of God’s children. Sometimes God answers our prayers and we don’t even know it! We can’t recognize it because it wasn’t answered the way we wanted it to be, or the way we asked for it.

Today there are a lot of ministers and teachers who preach faith. So do I! Thank God for teachers who stir my soul to expect miracles and answers to all my prayers. Perhaps the church has become so faithless and unbelieving, God has to explode on us with a new a fresh revelation of His powerful promises. There is much new teaching today on "making the right confession." God’s people are being urged to think positively and affirm all the promises of God. We are told to rid our lives of all hidden grudges-make all our wrongs right, even back to our childhood. It has been taught lately that most of our unanswered prayers, our lingering illnesses, our inability to move God on our own behalf is a direct result of mishandling our faith. As one faith teacher put it, "Faith is like a faucet; you can turn it off or on."

It all sounds so pretty simple. Do you need a financial miracle in your life? Then simply rid your life, we are told, of all the hindrances, grudges, and unbelief. Confess to having already received the answer by faith, and it will be yours. Do you want that reconciliation of a damaged relationship (perhaps your kids)? Confess it! Imagine it is happening. Create a mental image of a beautiful reunion-and it is all yours. Is there someone you love at death’s door? Then put God on notice you will not take no for an answer; remind Him of His promises; confess healing-and it will happen, so it is taught.

And if your prayer is not answered....if the son or daughter never comes around again....if the sick loved one dies...if the financial need turns into a crisis....then it is suggested it is all your fault. Somewhere along the line, you allowed a negative thought to block the channel. Or, you had a secret sin or un-surrendered grudge. You confession was unscriptural or insincere. One faith teacher wrote, "If you didn’t get the results I did, you aren’t doing everything I did!"

I truly believe in some of these principles. But there are Christians who are totally confused and despondent because they can’t seem to make all these prayer-and-faith formulas work. "What’s wrong with me?"......."I’ve searched my heart and have confessed every sin. I’ve bound demonic powers by the Word of God. I’ve fasted; I’ve prayed; I’ve confessed the promises: yet, I have not seen the answer. I must be spiritually blind or I’m doing it all wrong." And this is what we are going to talk about this morning.

There are thousands of confused Christians all across this nation who are condemning themselves for not being able to produce an answer to a desperate prayer. They know God’s Word is true, that not a single promise can fail, that God is faithful to all generations, that He is good, and that He wants His children to expect answers to their prayers. Yet, for them, there is that one prayer that goes unanswered....indefinitely. So they blame themselves. They listen to the tapes, watch TV, read books...(soooooo many books) of teachers and preachers who speak so powerfully and positively about all the answers they are getting as a result of their faith. And they hear the testimonies of others who have a formula all worked out and who now receive all they ask of God. Then they look at their own helplessness, and condemnation overwhelms them.

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