When our Internet connection or phone connection quality takes a dive we typically begin a process of troubleshooting.
We might start by rebooting. We then move to check all of our connections to confirm they are firmly in place. Then we confirm our settings and passwords. When that doesn’t work we’ll find a way to contact our service provider and pursue a solution until our connection is restored. What is our troubleshooting process when we sense that God is not hearing (by hearing I mean in the active sense of hearing and responding) our prayers?
Our owners’ manual gives us some things to check on. In Psalm 66:18-19 the psalmist gives us the first and easiest place to look for trouble. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” Is there some area of my life that I have intentionally held on to and not surrendered to Christ? Do I have some “pet sin” that I am trying to hang on to?
Maybe that’s not the problem. Perhaps I have some unresolved issue with a brother or sister in Christ? According to Matthew 5:24, we should first reconcile ourselves to our brothers before we come into communion with the Lord. Another place to look for trouble is in the heart behind the prayer. James the brother of Jesus tells us that sometimes we don’t receive what we have asked of the Lord because our motives are wrong. Why are we praying the way we are praying? Are we really praying in keeping with God’s will or for some other purpose? If all of these things check out we need to remember what God promises in regard to prayer. He promises an answer (yes, no, wait) and He promises peace. In Philippians 4:7 He says that when we present our requests to Him in thanksgiving we will receive his peace regardless of the answer.
Where God’s sovereignty and the prayers of his people meet and work together is a mystery, but of this we can be sure, prayer molds our relationship with God, prayer moves God to action and prayer changes things. This is the great privilege of the believer, to enter in to the presence of God and participate in the eternal purposes of God in prayer. “So let us keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
BIG IDEA: No matter how God answers our prayers He promises to give us peace.
MEDITATING ON THE WORD:
James 4:3, 5:16
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive what you ask for. Then your joy will be complete. – John 16:24
Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to Him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to
Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Go before God and praise Him. Admit to Him the ways you have not done what He wants. Thank Him for his forgiveness and for all the ways He has blessed you. Ask Him to care for you
and your family.
- What did you learn about prayer in Quest?
- What kinds of things might keep God from responding to your prayers? (see devotional)
- No matter how God answers your prayers what does He promise to give you? (Peace)
LIVE IT OUT!
- Make a list of things about God that you are thankful for.
- Make a list of blessings you are thankful for.
- Read Matthew 6:9-13 *together and pray.