40 DAYS OF PRAYER
Part 4 – Why Should God Answer My Prayer?
April 14, 2019
Libin Abraham, Missouri City Campus Pastor – SCBC
Luke 18: 9-14 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NLT)
1. Wrong Reasons that Turn Away Answers
- God doesn’t answer prayers because we think we are good.
Luke 18:9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else.
Luke 18:12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.
Isaiah 64:6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
- God doesn’t answer prayers because we think he owes us something.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people…
Psalm 115:3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
In prayer, we can be free of expectation but full of anticipation.
- God doesn’t answer prayers because we think we are better than others.
Luke 18:11 I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!
Comparison builds a false sense of godliness resulting in blinding pride or binding guilt.
2. Right Reasons for Assuming Answers
- God answers prayers when we come to him with a humble heart.
Luke 18:13 But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed…”
- A humble heart means to have a right view of God.
Isaiah 40:13-18, 21-23, 28
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
18 With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
- A humble heart means to have a right view of ourselves.
Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
When we realize who we are speaking to in prayer, the greatest miracle isn’t found in the answer to our prayers, but in the fact that we can pray.
Our access to God in prayer is through Jesus alone and no one else.
Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
B. God answers prayers when we are truly broken over our sin and long for a closer relationship with him.
Luke 18:13 Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
One prayer that God always responds to is the prayer of repentance.
God values right heart over right words.
C. God answers prayers not because of our merit, but because of his mercy.
Daniel 9:18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
We do not want God to be fair toward us, we want him to be merciful toward us.
Action Steps I Will Take This Week …
- I will place confidence in prayer not in myself, but in God.
- I will be more grateful this week that I can go to God because of what Christ has done for me.
- In my prayers, I will plead for God’s mercy rather boasting in myself. I will invite someone to come to church with me next weekend for one of our Easter services.