God Hears Prayers

September 22, 2019
Pastor Clint Ziemer

Audio of the sermon preached on September 22, 2019, at Cable Community Church, Sherrard, IL.

Episode Notes

God Hears Prayers

Luke 11: 1-13; 18:1-8

Why should believers pray?

Someone once suggested that non-praying Christians are the Jed Clampetts of Christianity.  They’re like the Beverley Hillbilly’s who lived in poverty in hills of Arkansas barely eking out an existence while the whole time they were sitting on top of a huge oil reserve.  ”Then one day while (Jed was) shooting at some food up thru the ground came a bubbl’n crude,  Oil that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea.  Well the first thing you know ole Jed’s a millionaire, Kin folk said, ‘Jed, move away from there; Californy’s the place you ought to be,’ so they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly, Hills that is; swimmin pools, movie stars!”

Imagine if ole Jed said, “Nah. I like being poor.  I think I’ll just stay here and do the best I can with what I’ve got!  Well, that’s just down right silly, now ain’t it?  But that is exactly what we are doing when we don’t take advantage of the huge reserves of God that we are sitting on top of as Jesus’ disciples. How do we access these reserves?  Through Prayer!

This morning we're looking at two parables that Jesus taught on prayer:  Prayer-ables, if you will.  Follow along as I read these.  READ [Luke 11: 1-13; 18:1-8]

Someone has suggested that these two parables are based on boyhood experiences of Jesus.

The first is a humorous story.  A certain person had an unexpected guest arrive during the middle of the night.  He had no food to place before him.  His embarrassment was so great that he knocked on his neighbor's door and called out, "Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him"  (Luke 11:5-6)  Now this man had bedded his family down for the night.  As was frequently the custom, the children slept in the same room with the parents.  For the man to get up would mean to wake the children.  The baby would surely cry again.  He was simply not willing to get up.  But the embarrassed neighbor kept on knocking - persistently, shamelessly.  Now thoroughly awake (doubtless the children were awake also), the gruff neighbor loaned him as many loaves as he needed.

The second parable is serious, almost tragic, but is relieved by a touch of humor and a happy ending.  Did Mary, Jesus' widowed mother, have someone try to take advantage of her?  There were men in Jesus' day, even men who professed religion, who would rob widows.  Jesus condemned them soundly  (Mat. 23:14).  The widow sought the aid of a judge -- who had no sense of right before God or man -- to get her justice from her oppressor.  She had no power to compel.  She had no money to bribe.  She could only beseech.  This she did continuously, at home, at his office, on the street, morning, afternoon, and night she pled her case.  She pestered him so much that he got justice for her just to get rid of her!

  1. Body
    1. Does God hear our prayers?
      1. What is Jesus teaching about God in these stories?
        1. Is he saying that God is like a gruff neighbor who hesitates to get up?
        2. Is he an unjust judge who must be begged until in self-interest, he attends to the petitioner's request?
        3. NO!  Far from it!  
        4. The point is in the “how much more" form of logic that Jesus was fond of using.  If a gruff neighbor will answer the persistent pleas of an embarrassed friend at midnight, how much more will the heavenly Father hear the pleas of his children?  If a corrupt judge will hear the plea of the persistent widow, "shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."  (Luke 18:7-8)
      2. Remember… God:  The best parent of them all.
        1. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?   Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?   If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  (Luke 11:11-13)
        2. If earthly parents, the best of whom are evil in comparison to the holy God, would not give a child who asked for a biscuit a stone; nor for a fish a snake; nor for an egg a scorpion; then how much more can we depend on God, who is better to us, to do better than we do?  Jesus is affirming that God hears our prayers and will give "good things"  to them that ask him.
        3. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!  (Matt. 7:11)
        4. God will not be worse than the best of his creation.
    2. Why should we pray?
      1. Short answer - God wants us to
        1. Jesus modeled prayer
          1. Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”  (Luke 11:1)
          2. Then he taught them the Lord's Prayer
        2. These parables speak of praying always
          1. Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,  (Luke 18:1)
          2. "pray without ceasing"  (1 Thess. 5:17)
      2. As you are praying, remember - God will not give us bad things
        1. If a parent would not give a little boy a sharp razor, no matter how badly he pleaded for it, how much more can we depend on God to deny our foolish petitions?  We would be afraid to pray if God granted everything we asked of him.  This would substitute our fallible, limited judgment for God's infallible judgment. 
        2. This is one point where I disagree with the so called “Word of Faith” teaching which says that if you only pray hard enough, with enough faith, or speaking the right “words of faith,” then God WILL answer your prayers. 
        3. Let us thank God for unanswered prayer.
      3. God desires to give us good things
        1. Prayer is a means of soul growth
          1. By prayer I mean more than simply the saying of prayers.  One's prayer is that which one really desires.  We may or may not use words to relate that desire.  
          2. James Montgomery's beautiful hymn expresses the meaning accurately:
            1. Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
            2. Unuttered or expressed,
            3. The motion of a hidden fire
            4. That trembles in the breast.

          1. With that in mind, one purpose of prayer is to get the petitioner's will in harmony with God's will.  Jesus' primary prayer in Gethsemane was not in saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,"  It was rather, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou will."  (MAtt. 26:39)
          2. To Pray in Jesus name is to pray so in accord with our Lord's will that he could sign his name to it.
          3. If God's will is best, then we believers need to come to the place where our wills conform to God's will.  Prayer is a means that helps us to do this.  God's delay in answering our prayers may be His means of clarifying our motives and desires.
        1. God's "no" or "wait" or "something else" will prove to be better than our own desires
          1. Second Corinthians 12:7-9 narrates how Paul prayed earnestly that the thorn in his flesh might be removed.  Paul was earnest.  He thought that his thorn in the flesh hindered his ministry.  He believed its removal to be God's will.  God did not take away the thorn in the flesh, but he did give Paul the grace to bear it.  Paul lived to see that he was a better minister for Christ because the Lord did not give him what he asked for.
          2. All mature Christians have had similar experiences.  We look back and thank God for unanswered petitions but answered prayers.
          3. Someone has expressed this thought as follows:
            1. How God Answers
            2. He prayed for strength that he might achieve,
            3. He was made weak that he might obey.
            4. He prayed for health that he might do greater things,
            5. He was given infirmity that he might do better things.
            6. He prayed for riches that he might be happy,
            7. He was given poverty that he might be wise.
            8. He prayed for power that he might have the praise of men,
            9. He was given weakness, that he might feel the need of God.
            10. He prayed for all things that he might enjoy life,
            11. He was given life that he might enjoy all things.
            12. He had received nothing that he asked for --       
              All that he hoped for,
            13. His prayer was unanswered --
              he was most blessed.
    1. Why are some prayers delayed?
      1. Most times we are not ready.
      2. God's blessings will not be poured upon a superficial prayer.
      3. James 4:2b-3 says, “… you do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
      4. Instead, we need to follow Jesus’ model and pray God’s will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven…”
      5. Prayer for God's will to be done on earth implies that the one praying will allow God's will to be done in his or her life.
      6. Prayer for the salvation of the lost implies one's willingness to live an exemplary Christian life and a willingness to seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit in witnessing to the unsaved.
      7. A person's prayer for peace implies that one is both peaceable and a peacemaker.  
      8. Ones' prayer for justice and mercy implies that one will be just and merciful.

II. Conclusion

  1. Is your prayer in Jesus' name?
  2. Are you praying in God's will?
  3. Are you seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?
  4. Believe that God will work out the situation you are praying about for good.
  5. Jesus says that you are not to give up.
  6. Keep on asking.  Keep on seeking.  Keep on knocking.
  7. The heavenly Father may not give you exactly what you are asking for, but he will give you better than you ask.
  8. He will not be deaf to your cries.
  9. God promises some things when you ask in sincerity, for example, the forgiveness of sins, salvation, eternal life, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and heaven as your eternal home.
  10. He has not promised health, freedom from pain, material prosperity, long life or escape from death.
  11. He does promise that whatever the trial, "My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Cor. 12:9)
  12. The whole point of prayer is not that we might get God to do our will.  Rather it is to acknowledge our consent that God's will be done through us.

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