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If My People Pray I Will Hear From Heaven

January 31, 2010 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: If My People...

Topic: Prayer Passage: 2 Chronicles 7:11–7:15

If My People Pray…I Will Hear From Heaven

For those who are visiting us this morning we have spent the month of January in a series on the importance of prayer based out of 2 Chron. 7:14. Please turn with me to 2 Chron. 7:11-15 as we bring this series to an end and while you’re turning there, let’s pray.

2 Chron. 7:11-15

By now most of us are pretty familiar with what’s going on: Israel, under the leadership of King Solomon, has just finished building the temple and Solomon gathers Israel together and prays a prayer of dedication. And in this prayer Solomon envisions a day when Israel will turn away from the Lord and follow other gods and suffer the consequences, and in his prayer Solomon asks the Lord that in that day, if God’s wayward people return to God will He hear them, will He heal their land, will He forgive their sin?

God says, “Yes, says if My people come humbly, seeking My face, and renouncing their sin then I will hear them, I will heal them, I will forgive them.” If you read your Bible there is no surprise here, the Bible reveals over and over again that God is a God who is very merciful, very forgiving, and who delights in hearing and answering the prayers of His people.

Prayer is so important for the church – a prayerless church is a powerless church – but it’s not enough just to pray. God calls us to pray with faith that God hears and answers the prayers of His people. Very simple goal this morning: to stir our faith, our confidence, and our expectation that God does indeed answer prayer.

ILL: Yesterday the church laptop power cord stopped working. This is a problem because we use it in the service for the words to the worship songs we sing. And no one else had a power cord that would work. I had an old power cord that also didn’t work, so I spliced the two together hoping that I might get one cord to get us through the service. I found that if I held the power cord line exactly so it would charge the computer. So as I sat there on my knees holding the power cord just so, not daring to move a muscle, two things happened: the computer slowly charged, and I realized that the cord is only good if it connects the power to the computer. And that’s true for prayer as well – prayer by itself has no power –only as it connects the person praying to the living God does prayer have power.

Through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection we have open access to God our Father and we are invited to come boldly to throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Prayer is the conduit to our Father through which mercy, grace, and answers are received. And no one encourages us to come with confidence that when we pray we will get answers from our Father than Jesus himself.

I. The promise of answered prayer

I want us to look at some words of Jesus that make us uncomfortable. Verses that a lot of us read over quickly because honestly we find it hard to believe they mean what seem to mean. In gospel of John, Jesus’ last hours are recorded from chapter 13 on, so what we’re going to read are Jesus’ words to His disciples in last few remaining hours before his arrest and crucifixion. In that short time he promises them no less than six times: their prayers will be answered.

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John 14:12-14 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:7-8 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Jesus must have meant to stir up faith in our hearts to expect God to answer our prayers or he wouldn’t have spoken with such certainty of our getting answers.: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do…if you ask anything in my name I will do it… ask whatever you wish and it will be done…so that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give it to you…whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you…ask and you will receive that your joy may be full…

It’s almost like Jesus is giving his disciples a blank check and saying, “whatever you want, whatever you wish, whatever you ask – God will give it, God will do it.” Somebody could say, “well, that’s really just meant for the apostles” but these passages open with Jesus saying, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. The following words aren’t just for the 12 apostles, they’re for whoever believes.

Jesus must have meant to stir faith in our hearts to pray expecting answers or he wouldn’t have been so adamant about the certainty of our getting answers. Our Father hears from heaven and He answers prayer. Believe. When you pray, believe that God hears and God answers. Have faith. Now there’s not a person here who has received every single thing they have ever asked God for. We know that’s not the way it works, and deep inside we know it wouldn’t be good if it was. I’ve prayed for things that looking back I’m glad I didn’t get. So what gives? Well, there are conditions Jesus builds into these promises – conditions that are meant to align the power cord correctly so that the power of God is able to flow to us unhindered in the form of answered prayer.

II. The conditions of answered prayer

a. the first condition of answered prayer is that we pray in Jesus’ name.

Over and over Jesus says we are to ask in His name. The name of Jesus means more than just saying the words in the name of Jesus. It means the reality of Jesus – the Person of Jesus – all He is. To pray in the name of Jesus means that our prayer aligns with Jesus and His will. That’s why he says we can pray this way when we are abiding in Him and He is abiding in us. He is living in us and we are living in Him in close, intimate, daily fellowship.

We are like a branch drawing our life and desires and goals and our satisfaction from Jesus Himself. As we draw our lives from Jesus, we are then drawing our prayers from Jesus, and so we are praying in the will of Jesus. What Jesus would ask of His Father if He were on earth, He is asking through us. And the same confidence that Jesus had when He prayed is ours when we pray.

In terms of 2 Chron. we are seeking God’s face, not our own desires. Prayer doesn’t align God to us, it aligns us to God. Prayer doesn’t connect us to solutions; it connects us to our Savior. This isn’t some kind of spiritual fine print that negates the promise of answered prayer. We know that God is sovereign, and His will will be accomplished but that truth rightly understood doesn’t gut prayer of its power. God has ordained that most of what He accomplishes He accomplishes through the prayers of His people. Jesus never doubted the sovereign good plan of His Father, yet He prayed constantly. Jesus knew that there was one request God wouldn’t grant – to take the cup of the cross from him – yet ultimately Jesus’ prayer wasn’t defined by “take this cup from me” but “not as I will, but as You will.” God will say yes to many of our requests as we draw near to Jesus, but He will say no to some of our requests too – and if we are abiding in Jesus then our ultimate prayer is “not as I will, but as You will.” But don’t add that on to every prayer – Jesus didn’t. There are times when we know God’s revealed will – pray it boldly. There are other times when we have a gift of faith to pray for something – pray boldly.

So draw near to Jesus – He promises that He will draw near to us as we do. We should be asking God to pour into our hearts a love for Jesus that means more to us than life itself.

And if you are not a Christian, Jesus invites you to pray a prayer asking Him into your life. In Revelation Jesus gives the picture of Him standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears His voice and opens the door and invites Him in, He will come in and save you from your sin and cleanse you in the sight of God with forgiveness and enter into a fellowship with you that is rich and deep. The Bible says that prayer is to be in Jesus’ name, and that only in the name of Jesus is salvation.

b. the second condition of answered prayer is to bear fruit that glorifies God the Father

The prayers that God answers are prayers that have this purpose: to do the work and bear the fruit that glorifies God. Jesus said we are to do the works that He did. Powerful prayer needs to be connected to the work of Jesus. As Andrew Murray puts it:

He that would do the works of Jesus must pray. He that would pray in His name must work.

Cannot sever these promises Jesus makes from their context – doing His work. Bearing fruit for God’s glory. Purpose of prayer isn’t to give us what we want – it is to empower us to serve Jesus. The two are inseparably connected. Prayer is to help us produce fruit. And bearing fruit helps us to pray powerful prayers.

The fields are white unto harvest and we are to pray the Lord of the Harvest would send laborers – and we are to be part of that labor force. Don’t just pray – go! Don’t just go – pray! There are so many people around us who are aching to hear about Jesus – but we will never know if we aren’t bold enough to talk about Jesus.

Recently I asked a waitress if she went to church anywhere. I expected a yes or no and maybe the chance to talk about the Lord, but her response was emotional – it touched a place in her heart. Gave the chance to talk some about the Lord and His love. Matt tells me about a guy he meets at the Y who is yearning to learn more about God. They are all around us – people you rub shoulders with.

We are to pray and go. Irony: many Christians are weary and listless in their faith not because they are tired of work, but because they aren’t working. Want power, but not doing anything for the glory of God. What do they need power for?

“There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work” ~ Spurgeon

If our prayers are not regularly connected with the work of Christ, they will grow old and stale, and we will grow weary in our faith. The other day I shared with Janice that I was feeling weary. Later that night at a CGL meeting we got to talking about witnessing and how people seem more ready to hear the gospel than ever, and the Lord dropped into my heart – “that’s the answer to your weariness. Tell more people about Jesus.” Work that invigorates, vision that motivates, prayer that receives answers. Fruit that brings glory to the Father.

Conclusion:

When we pray we want to make sure our prayers are full of faith and confidence and expectation that God will answer. I don’t know about you, but I regularly need to stir that up in my soul – my prayers can default to a place where I’m expecting very little.

One last word of caution. Our faith isn’t in some formula: if I do it this way God will answer. Our faith is in the faithfulness of God. God is faithful to hear our prayers and answer. Sometimes the answer won’t be exactly what we ask for. Sometimes the answer will be “no” or “not now”. But don’t let that lower your expectations – pray boldly and expectantly and we will see mighty answers from God.

ILL: two weeks ago we prayed for James and Lisa Epp to sell their home. It had been on the market for – I think at least 4 years (maybe more). What we didn’t know is the Saturday before we prayed a couple had looked at the house and Monday their real estate agent contacted them and told them this couple was very interested in the house but would need to rent until they sold their home in Illinois. James and Lisa prayed about it and felt this was the Lord’s provision. So they are renting – which lifts a great deal of the burden from their shoulders, and option to buy. So we continue to pray that they will sell their home and be able to buy sooner rather than later. 4 years – on the very weekend we prayed (and we knew nothing of any of this going on). God answers prayer. Not exactly what we thought, but knowing God, it’s gonna be better.

• People to come to faith in Christ – people you know, don’t know but rub shoulders with

• Personal needs and needs in the body – God loves us so much and delights to care for needs

• Nation and our leaders

• Pray for the church and for your pastors (please) – and for other churches in the area

• Pray for the Lord to make provision for a building – we believe that is the will of the Lord, so let’s pray (and move) with expectation.

Let’s pray, let’s expect, and as God answers our prayers, let’s be very careful to give God all the glory!

More in If My People...

January 24, 2010

If My People Turn Away from Their Wicked Ways

January 17, 2010

If My People…Seek My Face

January 10, 2010

If My People...Humble