Summary: Broken fellowship with God will hinder our prayers. #4 in a 4 part series.
Title: Why Is God Not Answering My Prayers?, Part 2
Series: Prayer Changes Things
Text: 1 John 3:21-22
Relationships are very important in the Christian life. In order for our prayer life to be effective, we must maintain those relationships in good standing to the very best of our ability. In the previous sermon we looked at how poor relationships with other believers hinders our prayer life. Today we will look at the importance of having a right relationship with God as it reflects upon our ability to see prayers answered.
Sin has become commonplace among God’s people. We have become somewhat hardened to it, given the constant exposure we have to it through modern media. Sin is a problem in the life of a Christian, and unconfessed sin will hinder the prayer life of anyone.
Consider the following example of a young woman seeking counsel from a pastor’s wife. She said, "Jill, I’ve lost my joy, I’ve lost my peace, and I want it back."
"Where did you lose it?" I asked.
"That has nothing to do with this," she replied. "Help me to get it back."
"But where did you lose it?"
"I don’t want to talk about that."
But eventually she did talk about it. She lost it when she moved in with her boyfriend. That’ll do it. (Jill Briscoe, "Hanging Up Our Faith," Preaching Today, Tape No. 148.)
The Word of God is very emphatic in its portrayal of the effects of sin in the believer’s life.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
If we want to be effective in our prayer life, we have to deal with personal sin. If our prayers are being hindered, and we know that there are no problems in our relationships with others, then we must consider our relationship with God Himself.
I. AM I ASKING IN UNBELIEF OR DOUBT? James 1:5-8
Quote: The size of your God determines the size of your prayer request. The size of your prayer requests determines the size of your answers. (Jerry Falwell. http://www.sermoncentral.com.)
A. Unbelief Is A Choice Not To Believe.
Quote: God … has created us perfectly free to disbelieve in Him as much as we choose. If we do disbelieve, then … we must take the consequences in a world ruled by cause and effect. (Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957), Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 11590.)
1. Unbelief is contrary to everything we are as a believer.
2. Unbelief denies that God can or will do what He has promised to do.
3. We should note here the difference in believing in God to do what He has promised, and believing that God will do something simply because we ask for it.
a. For instance, we may say that we “believe” that God will let us get a particular job, or heal us of some disease, or that He will make us wealthy.
b. This kind of belief, however, is not really belief at all.
c. This is a pretentious faith that tempts God to work outside of His plan for our lives.
d. Sadly, many unbelievers and many who are weak in the faith are hurt by this display of misplaced faith.
B. Doubt Is The Inability To Believe. Mark 9:17-24
17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not."
19 He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me." 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?"
And he said, "From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"