What is Prayer?
How does God answer prayer?
God is a prayer hearing and prayer answering God.
Psalm 65:2 O You who hears prayer, to You all flesh will come.
While we have some concept of prayer, we will focus in this study on two issues:
What is prayer?
How does God answer prayer?
Part 1 -
WHAT IS PRAYER?
Websters Dictionary: Prayer, n. In a general sense, the act of asking for a favor, and particularly with earnestness.
In worship, a solemn address to the Supreme Being, consisting of adoration, or an expression of our sense of God's glorious perfections, confession of our sins, supplication for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for his mercies and benefits. A prayer however may consist of a single petition, and it may be extemporaneous, written or printed.
A formula of church service, or of worship, public or private.
Practice of supplication.
That part of a memorial or petition to a public body, which specifies the request or thing desired to be done or granted, as distinct from the recital of facts or reasons for the grant. We say, the prayer of the petition is that the petitioner may be discharged from arrest.
Assumptions necessary for prayer See Hebrews 11:6
God exists (Genesis 1:1)
God is personal (Psalm 40:17)
God rewards (Revelation 22:12)
Some thought questions:
Why pray if God does not exist?
Why talk to a force or principle that does not care about me?
Why ask if there is no answer?
Since we believe the three assumptions are true:
Prayer is not just positive thinking or talking to oneself
Prayer is conversation with one who listens, understands, and responds
Prayer includes a sense of expectation
R. A. Torreys New Topical Textbook
Bowing the knees Ephesians 3:14
Looking up Psalm 5:3
Lifting up the soul Psalm 25:1
Lifting up the heart Lamentations 3:41
Pouring out the heart Psalm 62:8
Pouring out the soul 1 Samuel 1:15
Calling upon the name of the Lord Genesis 12:8; Psalm 116:4; Acts 22:16
Crying to God Psalm 27:7; Psalm 34:6
Drawing near to God Psalm 73:28; Hebrews 10:22
Crying to heaven 2 Chronicles 32:20
Beseeching the Lord Exodus 32:11
Seeking to God Job 8:5
Seeking the face of the Lord Psalm 27:8
Making supplication Job 8:5; Jeremiah 36:7
Acceptable through Christ John 14:13; John 14:14; John 15:16; John 16:23; John 16:24
Ascends to heaven 2 Chronicles 30:27; Revelation 5:8
Quickening grace necessary to Psalm 80:18
To God Psalm 5:2; Matthew 4:10
To Christ 2 Corinthians 12:8; Revelation 22:20; John 14:14; John 16:23
To the Holy Spirit Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 1:20
Through Christ Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 10:19
Part 2 -
HOW DOES GOD ANSWER PRAYER?
Three essentials to learn:
God Commanded Prayer Isaiah 55:6; Matthew 7:7; Philippians 4:6
God hears Prayer Psalm 10:17; Psalm 65:2
God answers Prayer Psalm 99:6; Isaiah 58:9; Jeremiah 33:3
DOES GOD ANSWER EVERY PRAYER
OF THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO DO HIS WILL?
There are some assumptions that one must make here.
Torrey lists these essentials for prayer to be acceptable:
In faith Matthew 21:22; James 1:6
In full assurance of faith Hebrews 10:22
In a forgiving spirit Matthew 6:12, 14-15
With the heart Jeremiah 29:13; Lamentations 3:41
With the whole heart Psalm 119:58; Psalm 119:145
With preparation of heart Job 11:13
With a true heart Hebrews 10:22
With the soul Psalm 42:4
With the spirit and understanding John 4:22-24; 1 Corinthians 14:15
With confidence in God Psalm 56:9; Psalm 86:7; 1 John 5:14
With submission to God Luke 22:42
With unfeigned lips Psalm 17:1
With deliberation Ecclesiastes 5:2
With holiness 1 Timothy 2:8
With humility 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 33:12
With truth Psalm 145:18; John 4:24
With desire to be heard Nehemiah 1:6; Psalm 17:1; Psalm 55:1; Psalm 55:2; Psalm 61:1
With desire to be answered Psalm 27:7; Psalm 102:2; Psalm 108:6; Psalm 143:1
With boldness Hebrews 4:16
With earnestness 1 Thessalonians 3:10; James 5:17
With importunity Genesis 32:26; Luke 11:8-9; Luke 18:1-7
Repentance 1 Kings 8:33; Jeremiah 36:7
Confession Nehemiah 1:4; Nehemiah 1:7; Daniel 9:4-11
Weeping Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 12:4
Fasting Nehemiah 1:4; Daniel 9:3; Acts 13:3
Watchfulness Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 4:7
Praise Psalm 66:17
Thanksgiving Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2
Assuming the above criteria is met How does God answer our prayers?
What happens if the above criteria are not met?
HOW DOES GOD ANSWER PRAYERS? (What are His answers?)
God said YES to Hannah 1 Samuel 1:10-20
God said NO to David 2 Samuel 12:15-23
God said WAIT to the Israelites in Egypt Exodus 1:11-14; 2:10; 3:1-10
God said I HAVE A BETTER IDEA to Paul 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
CAN WE ALWAYS KNOW WHEN GOD HAS ANSWERED OUR PRAYERS?
We cannot always tell the difference in No and Wait.
We can usually tell in hindsight after the fact.
WHAT METHODS DOES GOD USE TO ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?
Does God still do miracles today?
Can God still send angels to do His work on earth?
Humans doing the work of God
Philip teaching the Ethiopian Acts 8
People good and evil
We can answer many of our own prayers
Study, seek wise counsel
NOTE: Many prayer requests are pious wishes for how we hope or wish things could be.
HOW CAN I KNOW THAT THIS IMPRESSION IS THE WILL OF GOD
IN ANSWER TO MY PRAYER?
Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Your life must be in tune with God John 7:17
First Impression God will answer, then the flesh will begin to erode it Proverbs 3:5
Human Spirit If you
feel checked, frustrated = Dont proceed
If you feel an inner peace = OK Colossians 3:15
To the lost this is intuition, hunch, gut feeling
To the Christian this is a renewed spirit Romans 12:2
Human Reasoning God
speaks to the spirit; Satan speaks to reason.
We do not always understand the reasons Just Do It!
Family (spouse) There should be mutual agreement (1 Peter 3:7)
Counselors Proverbs 20:18;
We must learn to trust the wisdom of others.
Human authority There are three specific areas:
Spiritual elders Hebrews 13:17
Government civil authority Romans 13:1-4
Wife Ephesians 5:22-24
Word of God What does the
Bible teach on this matter?
2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:105
Condemnation What is your conscience telling you? 1 John 3:20-21
Motivation Are your motives
temporal or eternal?
Dont sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the present.
Esau Hebrews 12:15-17; Prodigal Son Luke 15
Influenced (used) by others
Acts 5:29 Are others pushing you this direction?
Peer pressure; urging from others with personal motives
Pressure from boss, friends, telemarketers, social contacts
Motivated by selfish gain 1
Make sure that the end result will be God is glorified.
Motivated by revenge Ephesians 4:27-32; Matthew 6:15
Motivated by fear 2 Timothy 1:7