40 Days of Prayer: Day 24
We have been talking about prayer for 24 days. The question is, how are you doing? Is your prayer life getting better? Are you being more intentional? We pray and teach on prayer and talk about prayer… but what about answers to prayer? I think back over the years of all of the prayers that I have prayed or that have been prayed over me. Answers… sometimes we tend to forget the answers. As a child I was healed from a lung infection, diagnosed in Nebraska, they wanted me at children’s hospital ASAP. I remember praying with my aunt as we were actually watching a TV preacher. We packed up the car and headed to Denver. I got to Children’s with x-rays in hand and they admitted me. Checked me out, took new x-rays and said they didn't know what happened, but my lungs were clear. I know what happened, God heard our prayer and I was healed. I also know my Great grandmother, grandma and mom all prayed for me, that I would surrender to the Lord and be used by Him (that was 30 years of prayer). But none the less, answered.
There are countless stories of answered prayer, diseases cured, exams passed, forgiveness granted, repentance sought, marriages restored, hungry families fed, bills paid and so many lives and souls saved because of people praying fervently. Personally I have experienced many answers to prayer. Biblically there is a great deal of evidence that God answers prayer. Scripture teaches us that prayer is answered. James 5:16 states:The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. Jesus taught in John 15:7; "you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. And 1 John 3:22 "and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight".
Elijah prayed for fire from heaven in 2 Kings 1:12, prayer answered, Hezekiah prayed for deliverance in 2 Kings 19:19, and received it and the Apostles prayed for boldness in Acts 4:29 and boldly proclaimed the gospel, these are three examples. All three examples were written by eyewitnesses, thus they show clear evidence of answered prayer. Some people argue that the Bible doesn’t show scientific or observable evidence. Science cannot prove or disapprove faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
What really happens is that people go scientifically into research on prayer having already made up their mind. Scientifically, scripture has never been conclusively disproved.
I know as we went through Pams breast cancer and AML diagnosis, doctors seemed to lean heavily on science (which God did use). One doctor even sat by the bedside stating that God had nothing to do with what was going to cure her. To which I gently let him know that our faith in God was strong and that we would be keeping the faith and praying for everyone involved in her care. He quickly back peddled, stating that faith in “something” is important in the healing process. I found it interesting that the majority of nurses that the cared for her, were Christians. Every once in a while someone will conduct a scientific study on prayer, looking to see if it actually brought the desired result. The majority of these studies show that prayer has no effect and may possibly have a negative effect. What do we do with studies when the results show this? Are there any biblical reasons for prayers that go unanswered?
If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;
1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
James 4:3a; "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives..."
So, yes, there can be reasons for unanswered prayer; unconfessed sin and wrong motivations. How can we expect God other us if we have not surrendered all to him and are obedient to his commands? Lack of faith can be another reason for unanswered prayer.
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Faith is a necessary condition for us to have a relationship with God.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Faith, then, is necessary for answered prayer.
Last, critics of Christianity say: since Jesus told His disciples to “ask whatever they wish”, then ALL prayers should be answered. These criticisms ignore the context of what Jesus was saying. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you” is the prescription for praying within the will of God, so then genuine prayer that God answers focuses on fulfilling the will of God. The reality is that our will is secondary. Jesus even prayed in the garden before His crucifixion. “Not my will but your will be done”. Back to James 4 and God opposing us in our pride… so humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. If we pray His will in humility, what ever the answer may be, will be ok. God will always answer, yes, no, not yet and even maybe. But if we go into prayer demanding and commanding God? The answer will not be what we really want or need.
I do not understand why Pam had to go through everything she did. But I do know that God has been glorified through it and I know if she did not go through it, I would not be the pastor of Calvary Belmar right now. Her faith is stronger, my faith is stronger. In the middle of your storm, press in. Dont stop seeking the Lord and asking him to move on your behalf. Have faith! Seek His face and watch how He answers, how his hands move in and through your life. And then share the word, testify as to what God has done.
Does God answer prayer? Ask any believer, and you will know the answer. Every changed life of every believer is proof positive that God answers prayer.
Prayed for you all this morning!
Much Love and blessings,