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The Promise of Answered Prayer

 

Something that we, as Christians, often talk about, is how that God is a God that Hears Prayers. We constantly remind ourselves and others about the Need that we have for Prayer unto God, and how that our Prayers are heard by a God that is Able and Willing to answer our Prayers. The Lord Jesus Christ said in the Beatitudes, 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Mt. 7:7-8.) This is a very familiar passage that concerns Prayer; and, probably, all of us have hear this passage preached on many times. And, today, I want us, too, to think about Prayer, and how that God has given us a Promise in regards to our Prayers.

 

Specifically, what I want us to think about today, are some ways in which we must pray. The Lord has Promised to Answer our Prayers, and this is something that we take great comfort in. But, He has also taught us the specifics about How, When, Why, and Where to Pray. In other words, He has Promised to Hear our Prayers, but He has also levied certain Requirements upon us – which Requirements and Truths we must uphold, if we desire that our God would Hear and Answer our Prayers according to our Expectations. So, what I want to talk about today are some of the keys to Answered Prayer.

 

Certainly God will hear our Prayers, and certainly He will Answer our Prayers. But, from our perspective, we don’t usually consider our Prayers to be Answered unless the precise result that we expect is delivered to us. Sometimes God does Answer us in the exact way in which we expect Him to Answer our Prayers. However, many times He does not do exactly as we had anticipated Him doing, and perhaps the Anticipated Result is not completely realized.

 

I want us to be sure to understand that there is more to Prayer than a simple request and then a fulfilling of that request in the way in which we desire. A lot of folks today – even many supposed Christians – tend to treat our God as if He were a modern day Drive-Thru. They seem to think that they can just put in their Requests unto God, and then they can pull up to the Window and have their Requests fulfilled. These folks must not realize just how Wonderful, Awesome, Fearful, and Sovereign our God is! We must not come before Him on a Whim! Nor should we take lightly the Wonderful Blessing of Prayer!

 

Well, it is true that God has Promised to Answer our Prayers, but it is also true that He has given us Instructions concerning our Prayers. I think that it would be good for us now, to look at some ways in which we can Pray and consider our Prayers to have been Answered.

 

Be Faithful

 

One of the first aspects of Prayer that we usually consider is the necessity of Faith in Prayer. The Lord Jesus Christ told His Disciples, 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Mt. 21:21-22.) The Lord wanted His disciples to Believe in Him, and to Trust Him. He wanted them to have every Confidence in His Abilities to Hear and Answer their Prayers. And, I believe that the Lord still expects the same attitude from us today.

 

We read in Ja. 1:5-6, “5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James also tells us in Ja. 5:15, “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” If you notice, James, in all of these verses, speaks of Prayers being answered as a result of Faith. It wouldn’t do us any good to Pray to a God that we didn’t believe could answer our prayers. And, any Christian that comes before the Throne of Grace without Faith, is just as well off, if he did not pray at all! Do not waver in your Faith and Confidence in God! Surely He can do anything that it is His Will to do. Therefore, if we will Pray unto Him, and we will do so in Faith, then we can trust that He will Hear us and Answer us.

 

In the Old Testament when Elijah brought the prophets of Baal together so that he could prove, in the sight of all of Israel, that the Lord was God (see 1Kings 18), we find that Baal could not even hear his followers. However, Elijah’s God (and our God) not only Heard Elijah, but He was also able to Answer him.

 

When you look more closely at the Scriptures that we have just read in the Book of James, you will notice that all of these things that are Prayed for, are things that it is Right and Proper and Good for men to pray for. Now, we will talk some more about this later, but let me just say at this point, that Faith in Prayer is necessary, but to Pray for something that is Approved of God (such as wisdom or health in sickness or the forgiveness of sins) is also necessary in order to be sure of the Promise of Answered Prayer.

 

Keep His Commandments

 

We read in 1Jn. 3:22, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” God has placed certain Requirements upon us as to what we should do. And, God has placed certain Restrictions upon us as to what we should not do. These are all included in His Commandments unto us. When we abide by these Commandments, then we can fully expect Him to Hear our Cries and Answer our Prayers.

 

David once said in Ps. 34:15, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” The Faithful and the Righteous in this world are the ones that can expect to have their Prayers answered. Surely, it would not do us much good to Pray unto God – and expect Him to Hear us and Answer us – if we are willingly pursuing Evil and contaminating ourselves with the sins of the World. Again, we read in Jn. 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Those folks that will love and obey and keep the Word of God, will, when they pray, have their Prayers answered in such a way as they might expect.

 

You know, it is always a Pleasure to consider the fact that the Son of God prayed while He was here on this Earth. As you think about this, it becomes obvious that He always received what He prayed for, because what He prayed for was in perfect conjunction with the Will and the Purpose of God. He always did what His Father sent Him to do – He did not vary from His Commandments or Expectations in the slightest way. If we conform ourselves to God in that same manner, we have the same assurances of Answered Prayer as what the Son of God did when He walked this Earth during His Earthly Ministry.

 

Do Not Ask Amiss

 

Let’s read what James has to say in Ja. 4:1-3. “1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” To me, this idea of asking amiss, generally revolves around our Fleshly Desires. Sometimes we Ask for things that we Want, rather than for things that we Need. This is a great problem in Christianity today. Christians today have a hard time distinguishing between their Wants and their Desires. We must be sure of our Petitions before we offer them up. It is nearly Sacrilegious to make a Request of our Sovereign God, that is centered on a Want or some Selfish Desire. It’s not as if we are wasting His Time, but the principle is the same.

 

And, when we are Faithful unto God; and when we are Righteous in our doings; and when we Keep his Commandments; then, I believe, we will find that we will, more and more, Ask for those things that we ought to Ask for. In other words, if we will conform ourselves unto God, then we will find out that the occasions that we “Ask Amiss” will be fewer and fewer.

 

Accept His Will

 

We read in 1Jn. 5:14-15, “14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” This is hard for Christians to conform to as well. We are so accustomed to a Religion that inserts Man’s Will and his Abilities at the top of our Doctrines, that we have a difficult time subjecting our will to God’s Will, much less anyone else’s will. However, to put it plainly, we do not always know best – but God does.

 

To me, this concept of submitting our will to the Will of God, is a part of the Culmination of Answered Prayer. Surely, if we will Grow and Learn and Behave ourselves in the Holy Spirit, then, inevitably, our Will and our Desires will be more and more in line with the Will and Desire of God Himself. Therefore, when we Pray unto God – just as Jesus Christ did while He was here on this Earth – our Request will be Heard and Answered, because they are the same Desires that God Himself has!

 

Let’s read Job 38:1-8. “1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?” These verses demonstrate to us the Futility and the absolute Absurdity of any man thinking that he knows more than God when he Prays. And yet, that is the attitude of probably the vast majority of Christians today. Who are we to Oppose the Will and the Desire of God? And yet, if we persist in asking amiss; or if we persist in asking for Wants rather than Needs, it is not likely that God will consistently answer our prayers.

 

I know that God instructs us to be persistent in our prayers – we read about this in Lk. 18:1-8. “1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Certainly this widow woman was persistent in her Requests and her Desires. But, we can see that her Requests and Desires were also Just and Needful.

 

So, along with being persistent, our Prayers should be in Accordance with, and Subject to, the Will of God. We read about this in Mk. 14:35-36, 39-41, “35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt…39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. 41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” In Prayer, as in all things, the Lord Jesus Christ is our Ultimate and Best Example. And, even as He submitted Himself to the Will of God – and this is not a show of weakness, but rather, this is proof of subjection and obedience – even so, we should submit ourselves to the Will of God, even in our Prayers.

 

Have a Clear Conscience

 

I suppose that to have a Clear Conscience is important in all of our Service unto God. But, especially, we must be careful to Cleanse our Hearts and Minds when we come into the Presence of the Great King! We read in Mk. 11:24-26, “24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

These verses mention the need for Faith and Belief in God. But, these verses also emphasize our need to Forgive one another. How many Church members do you know, that will hold grudges against others – even against other Brothers and Sisters in Christ? And, how many Churches do you know, where you can plainly see the animosity or lack of kindness between Brothers and Sisters in Christ? I have had folks tell me that they cannot get along with this Preacher or with this Brother or with this Sister. Don’t you think that these Thoughts and Attitudes will impede the Prayers of the Saints of God? Ought we not, just Frankly Forgive our Brothers and Sister? And, if not, then how can we expect our Father to Forgive us our own sins? Are you and I pure enough that we condemn others of their sins against us, and expect that we have no sins for which God or man might have to Forgive us?

 

I think that we do God and our Brothers and Sisters a disservice, if we do not Forgive one another, and seek to come before God with Pure Hearts, and with Pure Motivations. It is then, when we have Sanctified our Hearts and Minds, and when we have cast out the Distractions and the Sins and the Grudges of the Flesh – it is then that we can come before God in Prayer, and expect that He will Hear us and Answer us according to our Desires.

 

In the Name of Jesus Christ

 

Finally, let’s read what Jesus Christ had to say to His Disciples in Jn. 16:24. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” While the Lord Jesus was here on this earth, His Disciples did not Pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. But, since He has ascended into Heaven, and is, even now, on the Right Hand of God interceding on our behalf, it now behooves us to Pray unto God in the Name of Jesus Christ.

 

All of these other things that we have mentioned today are very important. It is Important that we have Faith in God’s Power, that we Obey God, that we do not Ask Amiss, that we Accept His Will, and that we have a Clear Conscience. But, all of these things would not do us any good, if it were not for the fact that Jesus Christ has made the way Clear for us! He has opened the very doors of Heaven, into the Presence of God the Father. Now, we can come before Him and Offer up our Thanksgivings and Praises; and we can come before Him and present our Prayers and our Supplications.

 

I think that it does us all good, every time we pray, to remind ourselves that Prayer is a Blessing and a Privilege – and Prayer is only granted to us Through and By our Blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is quite appropriate, that, when we pray, we announce unto God and to others, that we are Praying in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Conclusion

 

It is true that God promises to answer our Prayers. When we Pray to God, we have an Invincible and Sovereign God that we Pray to. What a Wonder and a Comfort it is, to have our God to Pray unto! There is no other God like Him! Those of us that are saved are beneficiaries of the Blessing of Prayer – and we ought not to take this Blessing for granted.

 

Think about this also: It is a Blessing that God doesn’t always give us what we want in exactly the way we desire it. He knows better than we, what we need. I am glad that He does, and I am glad that when I don’t pray for what I should or in the manner that I should, He still hears, and He Answers my Prayers in the way that they should be answered so that, ultimately, only His Name is Glorified. We read in Rom. 8:26-27, “26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

 

Remember, if we Pray according to the Will of God, and if we do these other things that we have mentioned today, our Prayers most certainly will be Answered and they will be answered in precisely the way that we expect them to be Answered. However, when we don’t pray in a way that reflects all of these things that we have talked about today, our prayers are still Heard and Answered, but perhaps we don’t receive what we Anticipate, because we haven’t observed all of the Requirements of Prayer. Only when our Expectations are totally in line with God’s Expectations, can we expect our Prayers to be answered according to our Expectations. Don’t let us be quick to speak against God when we don’t get exactly what we request. The problem is not with Him, it is with us. And the Answer that we receive is exactly the Answer that we should receive. And, the Answer that we receive is exactly what we should have been praying for all along – that God’s Will be done.

 

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