Points Covered: A sermon on prayer: Conditions for getting our prayers answered, what can prayer do, why God wants us to pray.
Introduction: I have found that the greatest key to spiritual growth is spending time alone with the Lord. This means taking the time to speak with God about whatever is in your heart—and, even more importantly, allowing Him to speak to you. The key to all great personalities in the Bible is that they spent time alone with God. When God found someone inline with Him, he did great exploits through them.
Then why is that most believers now don’t desire to spend time alone with God? Why should we pray? What happens when we pray? Can our prayers be answered by God?
We are going to see about how to get our prayers answered and the power of our prayer.
The fact is either God does answer prayer or God does not answer prayer. If God does not answer prayer then it is foolish to pray. But if God does answer prayer, then it is foolish not to pray. Jesus never taught his disciples to preach, but he did teach them how to pray. Even though Jesus taught us to pray, most people do not pray?
Many people feel that God is sitting a long way off and is unaware of our circumstances. The Bible does not teach a God like that. Bible teaches that God delights to answer the prayers of his people. We do not have an unwilling God. We do not have a God who has to get into the mood to answer prayer. We do not have to go for a pilgrimage to get the attention of God. The scripture says God is willing to answer our prayers.
God wants to answer prayer.
Let us read some scripture to see how willing God is to answer our prayer.
Matthew 7:7-8 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
John 14:13-14 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
Again and again Jesus is telling us that if we pray, God will answer our prayers. If you ask you will receive, if you seek you will find, if you knock, it will be opened for you. There is no shadow of doubt anywhere here. God hears and answers our prayers.
Now, even though Jesus was with the disciples, they never prayed to him. When we go to John 16, Jesus is talking to his disciples and telling them you are not praying now because you are with me and you get all what you need. Then Jesus is pointing them to his death and telling them that when I die you will be in sorrow and then you will not be able to ask me anything either. But Jesus goes on to say to his disciples that he wants to show them a way to get what they ask in prayer even when he is not there around with them.
John 16:23-24 23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Even in his absence in body with us, Jesus has given us the provision to get our prayers answered. The Bible says when we ask we will receive and when we receive our answers from God we will have complete joy. There is a special joy that comes to a believer when we he learns how to pray. There is a joy when we find our God can come down and do things for us that we ask him to do. There is no substitute to receive that joy other than prayer.
1 John 5:14-15 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
This is the confidence the Bible says. The Greek word says freedom of speech. God desires that we should have freedom of speech in asking whatever we want according to his will, he will hear us and give us.
So God is willing to answer our prayers, God is willing to give us anything we ask. God is waiting for us to pray. Those who pray have the confidence. Those who pray have the unspeakable joy of God in them.
Conditions for getting our prayer answered.
1. Pray with praise and thanksgiving.
Our access into the presence of God should be wtih praise and thanksgiving.
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Why praise and thanksgiving? Praise and thanksgiving will build up our faith, because we praise and thank God for what he has done in the past and that gives us the faith that God will answer the present request also.
John 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 16:23 I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
There is so much power and authority available in the name of Jesus. Many people pray and end the prayer in the name of Jesus. Yes, that is the right way to pray but we should know why we ought to pray in the name of Jesus.
Romans 8:32 He (God the Father) who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he (God the Father) not also, along with him (Jesus Christ), graciously give us all things? The condition is along with him (Jesus) God freely gives all things. Without Jesus nothing, with Jesus everything you receive.
God never answers prayers because we are good, or because of our merit. God answers prayer only if we pray and pray in the name of Jesus. We have no claims of our own, we have no righteousness of our own to receive anything, but when we pray in the name of Jesus to God, we receive the answer to our prayers.
When we come in the name of Jesus, when we come on the fact that God gave his son because he loved us so much and when we come on that merit, then everything that God has is available to us.
More than any other characteristic in the Bible except faith, the number one thing related to prayer is forgiveness. Over and over again, every time Jesus talks about prayer He talks about forgiveness. Why? Because nothing will hinder your prayers than anger and resentment. When you hold a grudge, when you nurse an ill feeling, when you allow bitterness to grow in your life, it knocks off your prayers.
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Maybe you’re praying and not getting an answer because you’re holding a grudge against somebody.
Matthew 5:23-24 23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
For all those of who are family, a good and healthy family relationship is very important for your prayers to be answered. 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
So if you want your prayers to be answered we need good husband-wife relationship, we need good parent-children relationship.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
Many times we pray only for our needs, keep others first in your prayers. Do not be selfish in your prayer. Pray for God’s Kingdom, pray for the church, pray for others. When we pray for others, God will answer our requests too.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Job 42:10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
This is Christ like prayer, even on the cross Jesus prayed for his tormentors. When we are burdened for others need, that opens the way for God to answer our needs.
Why does God want us to pray?
1. Prayer can make a difference in what God does.
Do you respond when your kids make requests of you? Of course you do. So does God. He is the perfect parent as well as the powerful God. And the Bible teaches that prayer can make a difference in what God does.
Example 1: God brought His people out of Egypt in a miraculous way. Then after crossing the Red sea, they stopped at Mt. Sinai. While Moses was having a long talk with God, receiving the 10 commandments, the people got impatient. They took off their jewelry, melted it down, poured the liquid gold into a mold shaped like a calf and made an idol, a golden calf to worship.
They worshiped that calf, sang hymns to that calf, brought offerings, and declared that the calf was their god who had brought them out of Egypt. God was not pleased! See what God spoke to Moses about their sin. Exodus 32:9-10 9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
God wanted to destroy them. Even though God told Moses to leave Him alone, Moses immediately began to pray for the people. Exodus 32:11-12 11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
See what happened? Exodus 32:14 The Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened. Isn’t it wonderful that God listens to our prayers, and that prayer can make a difference in what God does? God listened to Moses and God changed His mind.
Example 2: Do you remember the King Hezekiah. God told Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah to get his house in order because he was going to die.
2 Kings 20:1-6 1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3“Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”
Prayer can make a difference in what God does. When you and I pray God will change his mind for the sake of his righteous one and forgive the people. God will take away the punishment.
Jeremiah 18:7-8 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
While God will never change His goal of redeeming mankind, but when God intends to punish man, His will can change in response to the prayers of His children. When we pray God can send salvation upon the unsaved people. God has demonstrated that many times in the Bible. Prayer can make a difference in what God does.
Not only can prayer affect God’s actions, prayer can also have an effect on our circumstances and our life because we’re talking to the One who has all power and authority over everything.
In one instance Apostle Paul was going back to Jerusalem and he knew the Jews were scheming to kill him. See what Paul did. Romans 15:30-33 30 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, 32so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Can you imagine how the Apostle Paul must have felt going to Jerusalem knowing that the Jews there intended to take his life? This did not stop him from going but Paul asked the Romans to join with him in prayer, knowing that the unity of their intercession would change the outcome of his journey. Paul also when faced with death believed that if the church prays he would not die but would come back to Rome. Prayer can change our circumstances.
Illustration: I remember one of our brother, Br. Leo’s father had an attack and suddenly fell unconscious, for three days he was conscious. After repeated scans the doctors did a brain surgery on him. Thereafter, he was in the ventilator for some days. People and doctors thought he will not be conscious, if at all he regained he would be paralyzed. The church and many people prayed for him. He regained his consciousness, now he is having normal activity and he is now discharged back home. Prayer can change our circumstances.
In Joshua 10 the Amorites (a coalition of 4 kingdoms) were fighting against Joshua. Joshua and his people were advancing in the battle but it was getting dark before the battle was over. Joshua knew if he had to win he had to defeat the enemy in the same day, so Joshua prayed for more daylight.
Joshua 10:12-15 12On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel! 15 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal. The Bible says that God caused the sun to stand still.
Remember when Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den? The lions were starving, but when Daniel came on the scene, God closed their mouths.
Remember when Jonah was thrown overboard? The Bible says that God provided a great fish to swallow him. That fish had no option but to obey. Jonah was in that fish for 3 days and 3 nights. I’m convinced he tried every way he could to get out – but nothing worked. Jonah finally realized that he was in a crisis and started to pray. See what the bible says about Jonah’s prayer. Jonah 2:10 TEV And as soon as Jonah finished praying, “The Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah up onto the beach, and it did” You see, prayer does have power to affect circumstances.
Application: You may be going to financial struggles, you maybe be suffering from a health problem today, you maybe praying for your work or business, you maybe praying for your unsaved family member; whatever your requests are when we pray God has the power to change our circumstances. God is telling us, “Church you pray I am ready to do great things for you, I am ready to give you a break through, I want to change your circumstances, but you pray.”