Section Seven Answered Prayer
In the right hand margin, write "true" or "false" after each of the following statements.
|1.||God is not interested in our personal lives, therefore does not listen to our prayers.||F|
|2.||The only effective prayer is given when a person is alone on his knees.||F|
|3.||We pray in Christ's name because the words trigger God's reply.||F|
|4.||Prayer is communicating with God.||T|
|5.||God answers our prayers when we pray according to His will.||T|
|6.||God will not answer the prayers of the one who harbors unconfessed sin.||T|
|7.||God will always give everything one asks for.||F|
|8.||God is glorified when we pray according to His will.||T|
|9.||God only answers prayers that pertain to spiritual needs.||F|
Section Seven Answered Prayer
Prayer ... is not a soliloquy. It is a dialogue between man and God. Prayer is conversation with a real Person who actually hears what is prayed and does something about it. Prayer has subjective value too, and blesses the one who prays. If a man never got an answer, he would be a better man for having bowed his knees to Almighty God. A man "never stands taller than when he kneels to God..."
Prayer is objective as well as subjective. Prayer brings results — not just in the man who prays but in the ones for whom he prays, the things for which he prays. A man prays from his home in America for a missionary friend in Africa. God hears the man in America and responds by supplying the need for the man in Africa.
The Bible does not explain prayer, but abounds with demonstrations of it. Abraham did not pray just for his own edification. He prayed for a son as did Sarah, his wife. God gave them Isaac. Moses was utterly indifferent to his own welfare when he prayed. He was concerned for the children of Israel. God heard Moses and blessed Israel in the wilderness. Hannah prayed and God gave Israel a great prophet to lead her into national prominence. Nothing was further from Hannah's mind than her own personal blessing when she asked God for a son. God heard Hannah, who had been unable to have children, and Samuel was born. Elijah prayed for rain —the rain came — and the Apostle James declares that it was Elijah's prayer that was responsible for the rain." (Richard Halverson)
Christians frequently have trouble praying because they either misunderstand prayer or lack the assurance that God answers prayer. This week's lesson will encourage you in your prayer life.
I. Observations From John 16:24
After reading and meditating on this verse, respond to the following questions:
A. Who is speaking here (note verse 19)?
B. To whom should we pray (note verse 23)?
C. In whose name should you pray?
Prayers commonly conclude with this term or something similar, "Lord, we ask this in Jesus' name." This is more than just a signal to people that we have reached the end of the prayer so that they can open their eyes and look up. And, hopefully, it is not just a formality that we have fallen into because that's the way we have always heard other people pray.
Now when I come to God and pray in Jesus' name, I'm coming first of all in His and pray in Jesus' name, I'm coming first of all in His my prayers. Considering myself, I am utterly bankrupt. I have no credit with God. But I'm not coming as myself, I'm coming as a representative of Jesus Christ. Secondly, I'm coming on His behalf. That's what it means to ask in the name of Jesus — to ask in His merit and to ask on His behalf.
D. What are the two results of prayer given in this verse?
E. In your own words, how would you define "prayer"?
II. When Should You Pray?
Looking up the listed verses, record any observations regarding when we should pray.
A. Psalm 55:17
Is there any time, is there any mood, emotion or circumstance that is inappropriate for prayer.
(Note the author's honesty before God, and note God's willingness to hear our deepest hurts, concerns, fears, as well as joys and exultations.)
B. Ephesians 6:18
C. I Thessalonians 5:17
Paul's command is for recurring prayer, a life pervaded with the spirit of unceasing prayer.
Certainly, the practical demands of life make it impossible for constant prayer, but we can live in an attitude of constant communion with God. In the Christian life, the act of prayer is intermittent but the spirit of prayer should be incessant.
J.B. Lightfoot accurately comments on this verse saying, 'It is not in the moving of the lips, but in the elevation of the heart to God, that the essence of prayer consists."
D. Hebrews 4:16
E. Luke 18:1
We can see from God's Word that God wants fellowship with you constantly. God desires that we continually be in communion with Him through prayer not because He needs you but because you need Him.
III. What Are Some Conditions for Answered Prayer?
The Bible clearly teaches that God answers prayer (Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:24; James 4:2). Unanswered prayer is an abnormality that should be addressed and dealt with.
Yet many Christians slowly get frustrated, lose heart, and stop praying when their prayers do not seem to be answered. This frustration and later guilt grows as the discouraged prayer-warrior hears and sees other Christians testifying of life-changing, miraculous, supernatural answers to their prayers.
What are the essentials of answered prayer? What are some conditions for answered prayer?
James 4:2 says "we have not because
An obvious prerequisite to answered prayer is ... to pray!
As stated earlier, prayer is a dialogue. Another way of defining prayer is ... "prayer is the struggle to communicate with God, understand, and worship Him."
By communicate we mean, clarifying and sharing with God your feelings, thoughts, goals, desires and longings regarding yourself, life, and circumstances.
By understanding God we mean, meditating on God and His word, grasping and comprehending God's feelings, shirking, goals, desires, and longings for you, your life, and circumstances.
By worship we mean, ascribing glory, praise, adoration unto God, choosing to follow Him in obedience despite our feelings, circumstances or lack of understanding concerning His plan and will.
This process ... prayer ... is a struggle. It's a real struggle to communicate with God, to understanding Him and worship Him. But this is prayer...
B. Pray with Faith
"Without _ _ it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must _ that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
This verse indicates that faith in prayer involves a confidence, a certainty that...
1. God Exists
'I know God exists. And I know God is a good, sovereign, Holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, and just God ... and to Him do I pray!"
2. That God Is Approachable
"On the basis of Jesus Christ, and His work on my behalf, I approach you God boldly and confident that You'll receive and hear me (Hebrews 4:14-16). God, shark You that I can come before You, that You will hear me and this assurance is based on Jesus' death in my place."
3. That God Is A Rewarding God (Note Also John 16:24; Luke 11:9-13)
Thank you God that I have an assurance based upon your unchanging Word that You are a good God and a rewarder of those who seek You. I know Your intention is to bless and reward me, filling me with joy and so I pray to You.''
C. Pray According To His Will
Write out I John 5:14,15
We are given a promise that our prayers will be answered if we pray according to His will. The only reliable, clear, and authoritative source from which we can know God's will is God's word, the Bible.
If our prayers reflect biblical truth (God's will), we are promised that god will answer them. If we have a Scripture passage we can say, "Well, Lord, this is what You say in Your Word so it is Your will." But so often it's not that clear cut. There are many decisions in life for which there is no clear guidance in the Scriptures. You have to determine the will of God. It's the same way in prayer. If we would take the time to determine the will of God concerning this matter of prayer, we might pray less but we would receive a lot more answers. John plainly says that if we ask according to His will, we have those requests made of Him. It's as simple as that.
Let's consider the situation where we do not know what God's will is. We can come and say, "Lord, I've given thought to this. I've thought about Your Word, about Your character (who You are) and I've tried to put myself in Your position. I've tried to see the situation as You would see it. As best as I know, I believe that this is Your will and this is what I'm asking."
When you come on these terms, you can come with confidence. You haven't just rushed helter-skelter into the presence of God. You have, as it were, prepared your case. You can come and say, "Lord, to the best of my knowledge, I believe it is Your will for such and such to happen. This is what I'm prayer."
(taken from How to Get results through Prayer by Jerry Bridges, NAV Press)
IV. Possible Answers to Prayer
God may graciously and promptly answer our prayers in the very way we request.
B. God May Delay His Answer to Impress on Us Our Need of Him
The times of delay and the apparent silences of God bring us to our knees in reflective and total trust in God.
C. We May Not Be Spiritually Ready to Receive What We Have Requested
In the same way a loving parent may not allow their young child to possess certain things (i.e. rifle, chemistry set, etc.) until they are more mature, so God may prevent sure problems and difficulties from entering our life by withholding our requests until we are ready.
D. For His Own Inscrutable Reasons, God May Answer "Not yet!"
In His wisdom and foresight and according His plan, NOW is not always the best timing.
F. Sometimes God Denies Our Requests
The Christian must be willing to accept "no" as an answer to our prayers. Frequently Christians will complain that God is not answering their prayer when in fact He has answered but they are unwilling to accept a loving, Holy, No!
V. What Are Some Hindrances to Answered Prayer?
Looking at the following verses, what observations can you make regarding hindrances to prayer?
A. Psalm 66:18
B. James 1:6
C. James 4:3
D. Proverbs 21:13
E. I Peter 3:7
Summarize in your own words, what prevents God from answering prayer?
To help you get started, the following outline can be used as you pray (communicating, understanding, and worshipping God).
Reflecting on God Himself. Praise Him for His love — His power and majesty — His wonderful gift of Christ.
Admitting to God where you have sinned. Be honest and humble. Remember that He knows you and loves you still.
Telling God how grateful you are for everything He has given - even the unpleasant things. Your thankfulness will help you see His purposes.
Making specific requests. Pray for other first, then for yourself.
The first letters of these four words form the word "ACTS". Using this as a mental guide for prayer helps you maintain a balanced prayer life.
List four specific things that you can pray about today. Pause and talk to God about them right now.