Five Conditions of Answered Prayer
John 15 and Assorted Scriptures
Merve Griffin had a body builder on his show one day and he asked the man what did he use all his different muscles for. The man stood up and began to pose and show off all his muscles and then he sat down. Griffin said that was great but what did he use them for. The man stood again and started posing again. He sat down and Griffin said, “I know you have them but really what do you use them for?” The man couldn’t say. He used them for show. They had no real practical value. But sure looked good. We have Christian muscles. We show them off. We read our bibles and we pray and we attend church and go to bible studies but what do we use all this for? What practical value does our Christian life have? What is God doing to transform your life this week? How have you grown and how has your attitudes, your actions, your service for God, your influence in this world, how has it changed?
Prayer is: An Act of Devotion; An Act of Communication; An Act of Supplication; An Act of Cooperation but how has it transformed our lives, how has it transformed our church how has it transformed our community. We ought to be different; we ought to be more like Jesus every day. How are you different today than yesterday or last week or even last year?
I. YOU MUST BE HONEST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (JN 15:7)
Do I or have I refused to admit things that I have done wrong in the past?
1 Jn 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.” (LB)
Psa 66:18 “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;” (NIV)
Prov 28:13 “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” (GN)
Isa 59:2 “It is because of your sins that he doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him.” (GN)
Illustration: At Duke University, there were four sophomores taking Organic Chemistry. They had done so well on all the quizzes, midterms and labs, etc., that each had an "A" so far for the semester. These four friends were so confident, the weekend before finals, they decided to go to University of Virginia and party with some friends up there. They had a great time ‑‑ however, after all the hardy‑partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, they decided to find their professor after the final and explain to him why they missed it. They explained that they had gone to UVA for the weekend with the plan to come to study, but, unfortunately, they had a flat tire on the way back, didn't have a spare, and couldn't get help for a long time. As a result, they missed the final. The professor thought it over and then agreed they could make up the final the following day. The guys were elated and relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day at the time the professor had told them. He placed them each in separate rooms, handed each one a test booklet, and told them to begin. They each looked at the first problem, worth 5 points. It was something simple about free radical formation. "Cool," they thought simultaneously, each in his separate room, "this is going to be easy." Each one finished the first problem and then turned the page. On the second page was written: (For 95 points): Which tire?
Am I currently in the present ignoring any of God's principles?
1 Jn 3:21-22 “But, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with perfect assurance and trust, 22 and get whatever we ask for because we are obeying him and doing the things that please him.” (LB)
Do I really want God's will for my life?
1 Jn 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (NIV)
Illustration: "None find joy in worship but those who throw their hearts into it. Neither prayer, nor praise, nor the hearing of the word will be profitable to those who have left their hearts behind them." ‑Spurgeon
II. YOU MUST HAVE A FORGIVING ATTITUDE Mark 11:24, 25
Mark 11:24, 25 – “For this reason I tell you: when you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done.” (GN)
More than any other characteristic in the Bible except maybe faith, the number one thing related to prayer is forgiveness. Over and over again, every time Jesus talks about prayer He talks about forgiveness. Why? Because nothing will kill your prayers faster than resentment. When you hold a grudge, when you nurse an ill feeling, when you allow bitterness to grow in your life, it knocks off your prayers. Maybe you're praying and not getting an answer because you're holding a grudge against somebody.
1 Pet 3:7 (GN) – conflicts in the home “In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are weaker than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.”
Heb 12:15 – bitterness “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” (LB)
Matt 5:24 – leave your gift and get it right
Lu 17:4 – Forgive if someone sins against you if he repents, if he sins 7 times in a day and repents, for give him seven times
Illustration: At her Golden Wedding celebration, my grandmother told guests the secret of her happy marriage: “On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook.” As the guests were leaving, a young matron whose marriage had recently been in difficulty asked by grandmother what some of the faults were that she had seen fit to overlook. Grandmother said, “To tell you the truth, my dear, I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, “Lucky for him that’s one of the ten!””
III. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO SHARE THE RESULTS
That's a fact of life. God says if you pay no attention to other people's legitimate needs, why should He pay attention to your needs? He wants us to be like Him. He says a pre-requisite for God to bless our lives is that we must be blessings to other people. If we ignore those who are in obvious difficulty around us, what right do we have to expect God to bail us out.
Pro 21:13 – If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard. (GN)
Jam 4:1 – Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you. 2You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it. 3And when you ask, you do not receive it, because your motives are bad; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures. (GN)
1 Jn 3:22 – Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (NIV)
Illustration: I heard this week of a good Christian man who is a multi-millionare. He gives away 97% of what he makes. He had been bankrupt a few years ago and when he began to make money again he began to give to God. He said he learned he could never out give God. He began to increase his giving from a tithe to 20%, then 30% and finally to 90% and 97%. And he probably lives at a higher standard than anyone here this morning.
IV. YOU MUST BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL ANSWER JAMES 1:5-7
Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith will it be done to you”;
Heb 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please Him”
V. YOU MUST PRAY IN JESUS’ NAME JN 14:13, 14
Jn 16:24 “Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
What is so special about Jesus' name? Honestly, for a long time, I had no idea. I'd hear everybody pray and they'd end their prayers, "In Jesus' name. Amen." I kind of thought it was a signal that the prayer was about to end. Like a spiritual sign off. CB sign off -- "Ten-four, good buddy." The Walter Kronkite of prayer, "And that's the way it is." or Paul Harvey, “And that’s the end of the story, Good Day” Kind of a cut off.
Illustration: A pastor friend I know took his young son and about fourteen of his son's friends to the carnival for a birthday party. He bought a roll of tickets and he'd stand at the front of every ride and as the kids came by -- his son and the fourteen friends -- he gave everybody a ticket. He was just handing them out. All of a sudden he looked up and realized there was a little boy with his hand out asking for a ticket that he'd never seen in his life. He stopped and said, "Son, are you with my son's party?" No. "Why should I give you a ticket?" The young boy turned around and pointed to the man's son and said, "Your son said you'd give me one." So he gave him one.
Conclusion: Have you been honest with God?; Have you forgiven others?; Are you willing to share the results with others?; Do you really believe God will answer? Have you been praying in Jesus Name?