The Mystery of Unanswered Prayer

Matthew 7:7-12

What is prayer?  Why do we pray?  Do you get prayers answered?  How many have ever gotten one, two, ten, 100, all?

In this passage – there is a promise – a most amazing promise.  This promise was given by Christ – it is unconditionally delivered to all mankind.  This is not only for a few – not just for the Christian – this is given freely to all… the promise of answered prayer!  Do you believe these verses?  I don’t know if I really do!  I didn’t pray more than 5 minutes on Thursday – if I believed this, I probably would have spent more than 5 minutes Thursday asking, seeking, knocking…

Truth is, most Christians are like me – we ‘try’ to pray – but we’re not consistent, we’re not faithful at it.  We let God into little compartments of our lives – never truly being totally honest and naked.  We don’t see much happening out of it – so we give it less and less time, until something so big comes up we just have to tell God about it.  Sometimes, He comes through – and we’re grateful, so we pray for a while more – a few more days, a few more hours, another week or two – but there we are again on Thursday… only 5 minutes, if that.

Would you admit that you need to learn to pray – to learn how to pray, to pray more, to see it work???  Would you say, like the disciples did… “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1)

When I read the Bible, stories like Daniel, the 3 Hebrews, Paul, & Peter… then inspire me to pray – but how often do I see the results they saw?  Does God favor them more than He does me?  The stories of John R. Rice, Tom Williams, & George Mueller make great sermon illustrations – but honestly, I just ask why can’t I see that in my life?  Does God love them more?  Am I too human?

Unanswered Prayer Riddles Each of Us…  Aren’t you ready to solve the mystery and get an answer to the riddle…?

  1. God promises to respond to everyone’s prayer v 7,8
    – Prayer & Answer – only connected once in Bible (Ps. 143:1)
    – “Answers” – receiving, finding, opened doors
  2. God promises better things than for what we asked v8-11
    – Some people are pretty creative with their gift-giving…
    but there no match to God’s creativity (think of creation!)
    – When you ask for bread – God is wondering… white, rye, wheat, or 42-grain???
  3. God promises to give more than what we ask for v11
    – Some people are pretty generous – but not as generous as God!
    – When you ask for bread – God’s desire is to give you a loaf or a sandwich!
  4. God promises to answer prayers are ultimately designed to change us v12
    – Have you ever heard “Prayer changes things” – NO!  Prayer changes People!!!
    – Prayer is God’s invention – it’s God’s idea… to get us talking to him about our situation… in hopes that we would, what?  Ask for a change of scenery?  NO!  in hopes that we would, what?  Ask for a change in our spouse / kids?  Not really!  But in hopes that we would… Ask for a change in us… and really that, as we shared with Him, we would be changed – from the inside out!

Prayer is our way of entering into a covenant-ship or partnership with God!  Pray with faith – God control me, God use me, God change me – don’t think he won’t – He will!  What an awesome opportunity.

The Asking of Prayer – receiving the right things… spiritual priorities
Romans 8:26-27 – we need the Spirit’s help… prayer is not Aladdin’s genie bottle!
– refers to the gifts we pray for… getting things from God requires faith
– Don’t allow your past experiences (failed) be the measure of our prayers ahead…

The Seeking of Prayer – finding God in a real relationship… spiritual presence
Romans 8:28 – God is using situations to bring us closer to Him – even in prayer
– refers to our desires (do you crave, dwell on, strive for a closer walk with Him?)
– “It is in prayer & its answer that the interchange of love between Father & His child takes place.”  – Andrew Murray

The Knocking of Prayer – open doors of deliverance / opportunity… spiritual power
Romans 8:29 – the will of God is that we each would grow to be like Christ
– refers to admission into / permission requested… to go into, go with, go further
– terrible mark of our diseased state.. resting content without distinct experience of answered prayer

The answer to the riddle // the unveiling of the mystery of unanswered prayer…

Will you continue to deny these verses – the whole of Scripture & the good character of God?  Will we live Christian lives because we practiced failed prayer lives?   We cannot – we must not… we will see the answer to prayer… if you understand that God’s answer to prayer is to change people, to change you… not things!

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