Faithlife Sermons

EFFECTIVE PRAYER

ON The Road With Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts

Introduction:

The next day, after cursing the fig tree, Jesus’ disciples pointed out the dead tree. At that moment, Jesus started to teach the disciples about prayer. Why prayer?
Please realize that we are in the last week of Jesus’ life. In a very short time, He will no longer be present with His disciples. For three years, He provided all that they needed. And very soon, He will be crucified and will ascend to take His seat at the right hand of the Father. He will not be present with them. They will have to access His power by prayer just like the believing generations that will follow them.
Within the Jewish culture, the temple was regarded as the place where prayers were particularly effective. When one was not in the temple, one should orient oneself toward it in prayer. In this passage, Jesus indicates that the effectiveness of prayer has nothing to do with the temple and its sacrifices.
So, what makes our prayers effective?

Our prayers will be effective when we come to God in faith (v. 22).

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.
Jesus commanded the disciples to have faith in God. What does He mean?
But what is faith?
Someone rightly said that “faith is the opposite of doubting. It is a choice to trust Jesus despite everything to the contrary. It is to have the confidence in the power and goodness of God.”
I love what William Hendricksen says about faith in his commentary on the book of Mark. He writes, “Faith is the soul’s window by which God’s love comes pouring in. The open hand whereby man reaches out to God the giver. The coupling that links man’s train to God’s engine. The trunk of salvation’s tree, whose root is grace and whose fruit is good works. It is the victory that overcomes the world.”
I love what William Hendricksen says about faith in his commentary on the book of Mark. He writes, “Faith is the soul’s window by which God’s love comes pouring in. The open hand whereby man reaches out to God the giver. The coupling that links man’s train to God’s engine. The trunk of salvation’s tree, whose root is grace and whose fruit is good works. It is the victory that overcomes the world.”
He goes on to say, this is what faith is:
“The means of Abraham’s justification. The magnet that drew Moses away from the pleasure of Egypt, so that he sided with God’s afflicted people. It was faith that caused Moses to obey God and stretch out his hands when commanded. The force that brought down Jericho’s wall. The secret that enabled Ruth to make her stirring confession. The weapon that killed Goliath. The shield that protected Job in the midst of trial.”
It is faith in God that caused Joshua and Caleb to state in Numbers 14:8, “If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord and do not be afraid of the people in the land because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Faith causes us to see a powerful God and to rely on His power and goodness like Joshua and Caleb.
In my own words, faith is the trust we have in God that moves us to act a certain way. People listed by Hendricksen had a firm trust in God, and it was seen in their actions. Faith is trusting in God. It is accepting God’s word and acting on it. If a child trusts her dad to catch her when she jumps into the pool, she will jump. If a man or woman trusts God, they will act upon the very word of God.
Faith is the bedrock of the Christian faith. The writer of Hebrews wrote in , “And without faith is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
And the writer of Hebrews went on to list people who put their faith in action.
Jesus is commanding His disciples, and us, to be people of faith. The lack of faith is sin. The lack of faith will hinder the way we live our lives. The man or woman who lacks faith in God will not live to please God. They will not be obedient to God because they do not think that God has their best interest at heart.
In we read, “And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Many of us are not seeing God doing what seems to be impossible impossible because of our lack of faith.
If you want to have faith, read the word of God, interact with the gospel centered songs we sing every Sunday, fellowship with your brothers and sisters, and commune with God daily. I will also encourage you to journal what God is doing in your life. And your faith in God will grow. He will become real to you.

Our prayers will be effective when we trust that God is able to do what seems humanly impossible (V. 23-24).

“I tell you the truth, If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”
The word truly is used more than one hundred times in the New Testament. It stresses the importance of what Jesus is about to say.
We have to be very careful because some have misused this verse. Just because we have faith does not mean that God will grant us whatever we ask for. I do not think that is what Jesus was teaching His disciples.
Jesus was using figurative language to make a point. I think Jesus was teaching His disciples that no task that is in line with God’s will is impossible to achieve by those who believe and do not doubt.
David was a man who saw God doing what seemed humanly impossible. He said to Goliath in , “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” We see in the life of David, the anticipation that God was going to do what seemed humanly impossible at that time. But he had faith that it was God’s will that this enemy of the people would be defeated.
When Jesus talks about moving the mountain, He was not talking about a literal mountain. Realize that He was standing on the Mount of Olives. He was stating that those who have faith can do what seems humanly impossible because it is possible with God. He is pointing out to His disciples and also us that God is ready to respond when we pray to Him. In , the Lord states, “Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” The man who trusts in the goodness and power of God is the man who realizes that with God nothing is impossible.
In the book of Mark, faith always precedes incredible actions of Christ. In , we see the cleansing of the leper. In , we see the faith of the paralyzed man on display. In , we see the faith of the woman who had been sick for many years on display. In mark 5:36, we see the faith of a father.
In the book of Mark, faith always precede incredible actions of Christ. In , we see the cleansing of the leper. In , we see the faith of the paralyzed man on display. In , we see the faith of the woman who had been sick for many years on display. In mark 5:36, we see the faith of a father on display.
Our faith is not what causes the seemingly impossible to occur. It is the object of our faith, which is God, that brings about the seemingly impossible.
“and if he does not doubt...”
Doubt here does not refer to doubting one’s faith. The caution in this verse is doubting the very power and nature of God when we pray. states, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
We do not need great faith to access God’s power. A faith as small as a muster seed can bring about a dramatic response from God.
Will God grant us everything we asked for because we prayed without doubting? This promise has been abused and misunderstood. Scripture has a number of qualifications to this promise.
It should be according to the will of God.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. For our requests to be granted, we must ask according to God’s will. We find the will of God in scripture. That is why it is important to pray scriptures because we are praying the will of God back to Him.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. For our requests to be granted, we must ask according to God’s will. We find the will of God in scripture. That is why it is important to pray scriptures because we are praying the will of God back to Him. The will of God should be very important in our prayer life. Jesus in Garden before His crucifixion said, “Abba, Father, All things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.” God’s will trumped Jesus’ will in His prayer. We are called upon to pray to God. But we must always be ready to see that God’s will and not ours should be done. Christians are to pray within the Lord’s will as taught within the Lord’s prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, God’s will is perfectly done, for there is nothing in heaven to hinder it and the prayer of the person who prays looks for a similar state of affairs here on earth.
2. It should be done in the name of Christ:
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” To ask in Jesus’ name means that we should ask in accord with the person and work of Christ.
3. We should ask from a place of obedience:
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.”
Brothers and sisters, living a life of obedience pays huge spiritual dividends. We cannot say to ourselves that just because we are saved and have been forgiven, we can continue to live in our sins and God will answer our prayers. No. Answered prayers are preceded by obedience.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
In , Jesus commanded us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
If we ask according to the will of God, or in the name of Christ, and in obedience, we will receive what we asked for. Our focus in asking should be to honor God and advance His kingdom.
The apostle James gave us reasons why many of our prayers are not answered. He says in , “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Spend freely can have a neutral connotation, but the meaning here is negative. Similarly, in , where the prodigal son is said to have freely spent all of his father’s inheritance on wild living.
James tells us that because our motives are wrong, on numerous occasions our prayers are not answered.

Our prayers will be effective when we come with clean hearts towards others (V. 25).

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your father in heaven may forgive your sins.”
“And when you stand praying...”
The proper posture for a Jew when He came to pray was to stand. We see this in when Hannah said to Eli, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.”
In Jesus said, “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners...”
If you have anything against anyone, forgive him.”
Jesus is commanding believers to not come into the presence of God holding grudge against anyone. The apostle Paul writes in , “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another...” A lack of forgiveness does not demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Rather it highlights the control of the flesh. It demonstrates the hardness of the heart. John MacArthur points out that “We are never more like Christ when we can forgive those who have hurt us.” We see this demonstrated in the life of our Savior. On the cross, he forgave a thief and welcome him into heaven. We see Christ forgiving those who afflicted Him. We are to do the same.
We are commanded by Christ to forgive people who hurt us. Failure to forgive others, will lead to unanswered prayers because we will not be living in obedience but in disobedience. states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” For God to hear our prayers, we must forgive our brothers and sisters.
Forgiveness reflects Jesus. It shows that we are conscious of what Christ did for us. Failure to forgive is a clear demonstration of our ungratefulness. It demonstrates that we received from God that which we are not willing to extend to others. To forgive others is to come with a clean heart towards others, including those who have hurt us. Failure to forgive others leads to destruction. Think about countries around the world where civil wars are ravaging and the lack of forgiveness is at the root of most of those conflicts.
Should we forgive a person before or after they ask for forgiveness? I will say that we should forgive before and after they ask for forgiveness.
“so that your father in heaven may forgive your sins.”
The motivation for forgiving others is seen in this verse. We should forgive others so that our heavenly Father will forgive us too. In , Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
The forgiveness that Jesus was talking about was not the eternal forgiveness that accompanies our salvation. He was talking about relational forgiveness. He was talking about the sins that are part of believers daily lives that hinder their enjoyment and fellowship with God.
I will say that when we fail to forgive, we hinder our relationship with God. “The principle of God is love, for He is love. If the ruling principle of our hearts is bitterness, we have erected a barrier between ourselves and God. In such circumstances, if our prayers are to be answered we must first ask God to cleanse our hearts from the bitter spirit and put into them the spirit of love. Then we can speak to God and God can speak to us.”

Conclusion:

Conclusion:

I heard the story of J. Hudson Taylor’s mom. She was traveling with some friends in another city. So, she set a day aside to pray for her son. She stayed in the room all day praying.
While praying, Hudson Taylor found a track at home and decided to read it. On that day, he came to Christ. When His mom returned home, he was so excited and wanted to tell his mom about his conversion. He ran to meet his mother and said, “I have something to tell you.” She said to him, “I know what you want to say.” He was very surprised and asked, “Did my sister tell you?” She said “no.” She told him, “while away, I was praying for your salvation, and God answered my prayers.”
You want your prayers to be effective?
Trust in the goodness and power of God.
Trust that God can do what seems humanly impossible.
Come with a clean heart towards others.
Related Media
Related Sermons