The Sermon on the Mount #16 - How God Answers Prayers
The Sermon on the Mount #16:
How God Answers Prayer
Text: Matt. 7.7-11
Thesis: To prove that God hears and answers the Christian’s prayers.
(1) Prayer is one of the most lacking practices of a Christian.
(a) Typically, we pray before meals and when we are called upon to pray.
(b) Sometimes, we pray when things are bad.
(c) Nevertheless, we often fail to have the attitude where we pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17).
(2) Why is such the case?
(a) Maybe we feel that God knows anyway, so why should we pray.
(1) Well, it is commanded by God.
(2) Also, it helps us to realize our dependence upon God.
(3) Further, it is only a blessing that Christians can enjoy (1 Pet. 3.12).
(b) Maybe we fail to understand how God answers prayer.
I. He does not begrudge our prayers (Matt. 7.7-8):
A. Oftentimes, people grow weary of our asking.
1. Our God does not act that way; rather, He tells us to ask.
a. All three imperatives here are in the present tense, “which indicates continuous, persistent prayer” (France 144).
b. Remember the parable of the persistent widow who changed the judge’s mind by her persistence (Luke 18.1-8).
c. One author wrote:
Thou art coming to a King
Large petitions with thee bring
For His grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much!
2. Paul utilizes that thought as he wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5.17).
3. James tells us, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5.16b).
4. As R. A. Torrey wrote, “If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.”
B. Our God wants us to talk to Him.
1. This extends far beyond prayers for food, etc.
2. Think of Jesus’ prayer as recorded in John 17.
3. This should not be “some mechanical, memorized declaration or speech” (Winkler 233; cf. Matt. 6.7).
II. He does not belittle us (Matt. 7.9-10):
A. Have you ever asked a dumb question?
1. Teachers say that no question is a dumb question.
2. Not everyone sees it that way because you can be teased.
3. Sometimes you can get someone angry by asking certain things.
B. God does not act that way; rather, He is glad to have us ask of Him.
C. Further, God will not answer our prayers in an inappropriate, unloving manner.
1. He will not inflict evil upon us for our asking of Him.
2. He will not give us that which we do not need.
3. He will not give us that which will harm us.
III. He is bountiful in His giving (Matt. 7.11):
A. If human fathers can give appropriate gifts to their children, then how much greater can our heavenly father do for us?
1. He is able to bless us with more than we can even imagine.
2. Remember Solomon who prayed for wisdom and was given wisdom but also riches and honor (cf. 1 Kings 3.13).
B. Why are we not given what we ask for then, at times?
1. Did we ask in faith (James 1.6-7)?
a. Mark tells us to believe that we will receive that for which we pray (11.24).
b. We are to “pray as if the desired blessing has already been received” (Winkler 238).
2. Did we ask with sin in our lives (1 Pet. 3.12)?
3. Did we ask amiss to gratify our lusts (James 4.3)?
4. Did we ask according to the will of God (1 John 5.14)?
a. Remember the country song Unanswered Prayers?
b. Our prayers are answered but sometimes that answer is NO, NOT NOW BUT LATER, etc.
c. An unknown confederate soldier wrote:
I asked God for strength that I might achieve
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey
I asked for health that I might do greater things
I was given infirmity that I might do better things
I asked for riches that I might be happy
I was given poverty that I might be wise
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
I was given life that I might enjoy all things
I got nothing that I asked for – but everything I had hoped for
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered
I am among all men most richly blessed.
d. Remember Jesus who prayed for the cup to be removed but that the Father’s will be done and the cup was not removed (Luke 22).
e. Remember Paul who prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed but it was not (2 Cor. 12).
f. One author wrote:
When the glory of the Father
Is the goal of every prayer
When before the throne in Heaven
Our High Priest presents it there
When the Spirit prompts the asking
When the waiting heart believes
Then we know of each petition
Everyone who ask receives
g. As W. Barclay wrote, “True prayer is asking God for what He wants.”
(1) God does hear and answer prayer.
(2) Will we utilize the privilege of prayer?
(3) Are we in a condition where we can pray to God?