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Prayer Problems

This morning we planned on watching and joining Eastmont Baptist Church in their celebration. If you want to watch this it is available on Facebook at Eastmont’s page. We are not doing it this morning because it is just incredibly choppy. Since we are really here to worship, you can watch the special service later. This morning we are going to continue looking at the Gospel of Luke. So lets start reading at Luke 1 verse 5 and continue to verse 17
Luke 1:5–17 NIV
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Your Prayer has been heard

We are going to focus in on verse 13. Your prayer has been heard. Often times we get to a point where we wonder if God has even heard our prayers. Haven’t you ever heard someone say I prayed and prayed but God never answered me? This morning I want to take a look at that. I think there are some problems we need to consider. One problem is un-asked prayers.

Un-prayed Prayer

Many times we get mad because he doesn’t answer our prayers. Part of this problem is sometimes our prayers are not requests to a Holy Just all powerful God. They are demands made by spoiled children who do not understand what scripture tells us. Folks grab verse out of context and then began to make demands of God. Name it and claim it. Years ago Issac Airfreight had a comedy routine called the Ronco Bible. In that routine they suggested a new Bible. This one had a three pens. One was an eraser. One was a black pen and the other was a highlighter. You find a promise of scripture in the Bible and then you personalize it. The idea at the time was big of personalize promises. John 3 16. For God so loved Mike that he gave his only begotten son.
This idea went one step further. You find the promise then you erase the name and put yours in there. Then you change the promise. For God so loved the chapmans that he gave them a Winnebago. No you just highlight it and hold God to it. He has to- its in the bible. Silly I know. But it is what people do.
Remember the movie the War Room. A place set apart where you meet God. You learn His heart. You present your requests. You learn the heart of God. When prayer becomes an intentional conversation with God, we learn to listen. We stop using prayer as a wish list to use when we want something from God and it becomes an intimate personal conversation with Him.

God cannot answer what is not prayed

Look at what God tells us about prayers. In first Samuel we see that not praying is a sin-
1 Samuel 12:23 NASB95
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.
Paul writes we should pray without ceasing in
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB95
pray without ceasing;
Luke 18:1 NASB95
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,
says in essence we are always supposed to pray.
And in
Mark 14:38 NASB95
“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
we are told that to pray keeps us out of temptation.
Prayer- personal prayer is way too important to miss out on. In the book of James 4 he tells us this.
James 4:1–3 NASB95
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
We don’t ask. Matthew writes in
Matthew 7:7–8 NASB95
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Ask and it will be given Seek and you will find, knock and it will be open unto you. But we have to ask.

You HAVE to ask

Un-answered prayer

All prayer is answered

So whu does it seem like we have unanswered prayers? Because as much as we think we know we still don’t understand how life works. We don’t understand how God works. I believe God answers every prayer we ask. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is wait a while. Adrian Rodgers put it this way. Sometimes the answer is denied, sometimes the answer is strategically delayed and sometimes the answer is oddly different than what we ask.

Sometimes NO

Sometimes the answer is simply no. but why would a loving God simply tell us no? Back to James. Sometimes we ask with the wrong motives. Sometimes our hearts are so far away from what God’s is- we do not know what to ask for. Look sometimes we play with fire. I have fiends who play with sin. They push things to the limit. Do you ever remember as a child being told you are not allowed to do something and pushing to just see how far you could go? My niece Nicole was two or three and I went to visit. I was at my sisters house and talking to my sister and beside ne was the stereo. Nicole walked over to it and turned it on. My sister said no no Nicole and got up and came and turned it off. Debbie walked back over to her chair and sat down. Nicole walked back to the stereo and turned it on. Again No no Nicole. Again she got up and turned it off. The third time as Debbie said no no Nicole as she reached to turn it on I gently slapped her hand and said No. She was testing her boundaries. When she found it she wanted to go home with me.
The point is we play with Sin. We give Satan permission to mess with our lives. And then we ask for things that are actually clearly outside of the will of God.
Imagine if you are newlyweds. Ladies imagine you and your husband are on your honeymoon in Hawaii and your husband comes up to you and asks for some money to go into another hotel to meet his girlfriend. Do you think you would want to give it to him? So when we pray for something outside of God’s will why expect it? A friend of mine wrote me that he and his wife were having problems. So he was on the computer and he met a woman online. He flew to Chicage to meet her and this is what he wrote me. “I am confused. God led me to this girl in Chicago, and now He wants me to divorce my wife to be with her. Why would God do that?”
When you look at our text- notice Zacharias and Elizabeth are both righteous before God. When they go to God in prayer it really is holy ground they go on.
Look God hears every prayer. He even answers every prayer. But when that prayer is clearly out of the will of God, his answer is a resounding no. Almost an “are you kidding me” no. Look at 1 john with me
1 John 5:13–15 NASB95
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 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.

Not the answer we expect

We can not only know we have eternal life. We can be confident in our prayers. Not just that he hears our prayers, but that he gives us what we ask. This morning our hearts go out to Pat Thomas. For months we have been praying for her sister Ginny. Of course our hearts wanted Ginny to be healed here on this earth. Sadly our motives are selfish. Yes a bit selfish. We love Ginny and want her here with us. She faced Cancer three times. And you know what she beat cancer three times. Because this morning Ginny is with Jesus, and the cancer that plagued her is in a corpse being put into the ground.
We pray for healing, always wanting in our hearts a physical restoration. Yet sometimes that is not the healing God has in mind. Sometimes it is an amazing young girl who lost her best friend collecting money and packing 146 shoe boxes to honor her best friends memory. Sometimes it is a relationship that is estranged being restored. Sometimes it is a healing. My niece Nicole was diagnosed with leukemia as a little girl. God changed the type between here and Seattle and now she is a pediatrician in Wenatchee. While we limit our prayers God does not. We shouldn’t limit what his answer is either.

Life is not simple

Some approach life in a cut and dried black and white fashion. 2+2 equals four. I did this so it equals this. It is either clean or dirty. The job is finished or not. There are no gray areas and it must fit my criteria. If it doesn’t then it is a struggle. On some things I am a perfectionist. If you were to go in and look at the furniture in my office. Most of you would just see the beauty of the wood. I am sure none of you would notice the flaws in some of the framing. But I know they are there. Because I know where I made my mistakes, it took me much longer to build than it should have. I did not want to admit I did not know what I did wrong or ask how to fix it. It wasn’t until I asked that I learned what to do. Many times the fix just didn’t make sense to me. I could not understand it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how filling a gouge in a piece of wood could be fixed with water. It made no sense to me. This two inch gouge I made, could be fixed by soaking a piece of wood in water. In my thinking I needed a new board. But my friend showed me how to fix it.

Wait a While

Sometimes our prayers are answered in the same way. What we think and want the answer to be is not what it is. We need to be open to that.

Zacharias and Elizabeth

Do you think Zacharias expected his prayer for a child to be answered as an old man? I am almost certain in his mind he felt the answer was no. I actually believe he and Elizabeth had accepted that was the case. At least on the surface. Most of us will never have the angel of the Lord come to us and tell us directly your prayer has been answered, but he did.


This isn’t the only time in scripture that prayers are answered much later than someone asked. Look at Daniel. In chapter 10 he sees a vision and prays about it. Yet the answer takes 21 days for him to get it. But God heard it immediately.


Look at John 11 and the story of Lazarus. Jesus did not come immediately to pray over Lazarus. Even though he could have prayed where he was at and healed Lazarus he chose not to. It wasn’t because he wanted people hurt, it wasn’t because he wanted Lazarus to die. It wasn’t to be mean. It was to demonstrate the Power of God to the people. It was to glorify God.

Always about God’s Glory

I have told you over and over that the Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the purpose of man is to Glorify God and enjoy him forever. When we stop and realize that our prayers are not just a simple wish list, but real communion with God everything changes. When we pray for our church, we are praying that we grow so our community can see God in us. We pray so we can glorify him. This morning Eastmont celebrates 50 years. They have around 800 members. The glory that God sees is no greater in the folks there this morning than it is here. His people glorifying His name for His glory.

Where is your heart?

Are you basking in the glory of God this morning? Are you certain do you know you have life in his name? You can be.
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