For the past two weeks we have been looking at the things that we must do when we come to God in prayer. For this last day in this series we will look at the things that God has promised to do for us when we pray to Him.
Luk 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
1Jo 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
Promises NOT from God
Some people believe that the promises that God gives us in His Word for prayer mean that He must give us everything that we pray for. Most, if not all of us have heard the “name it and claim it” preachers on TV. They tell millions of people that all they have to do tell God that they want something and believe that they are going to get it and God will give it to them. (“If you want that Ferrari just tell God and He will give it to you!”). If they really believed that was true, why do they have to have their viewers send in the “largest check you can write”. Why can’t they just tell God that they want a new custom Gulfstream jet, and just wait for it to come their way? They can’t because they know that is not how God works, they just want to convince their viewers that it is so the viewers will send them all of their money. God is not obligated to answer your prayers because you are a good or nice person. He is not bound to grant you the things that you ask for. God is only obligated to keep His own Word.
The True Promises from God
The question is then, “What does His Word say?” First, let us look at Luke 11. In Jesus’ promise that God will answer our prayers He uses the illustration of a son asking a father for some food. In the illustration Jesus does not say that the father gives the son what he asks for because he was a wonderful or good son, Jesus says that the father gives the son what he asks for because he is a good father. So too, God does not give us the things that we pray for because we are good people and we deserve them, He gives us the things that we pray for because He is a good God. So what is the balance of this idea?
Does that mean we can be horrible, unkind, wretched people and God will give us everything that we ask for? Absolutely Not! Pro 21:13 says: “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”
Passages assuring of that God will answer our prayers must be understood by comparing Scripture with Scripture and understanding them in the light of verses like John 15:7 and I John 3:22. By reading and truly understanding these passages, we understand that God is not giving us a blanket promise to give us anything, anytime, anywhere we ask. We must understand that as we live in Christ and read the Bible, doing the things that He teaches us we will start to desire for our lives the things that God wants for us and as we desire the things that He wants for us we will ask Him for the things that He already wants to give us. Additionally, as we do the things that God asks and tells us to do we please Him and He will be happy to give us things that we want. Looking back to the passage in Luke we understand this in the light of the father/son relationship. When your children disobey and ignore the things that you tell them to do are you inclined to give them gifts that they ask you for? (“No! Dad, I won’t clean up my room, but can I have an X-Box 360?”) We smile at the illustration, but we do the same thing to our Heavenly Father. We ignore the things that He tells us to do but then we want Him to bless us with gifts. So we must understand that as we read and do God’s Word and seek to please Him, He will seek to please us. It’s not that God is mean and evil, but He will not bless us in our disobedience.
What About You?
- Are you keeping His commandments and doing the things that are pleasing to Him?
- Are you spending time in God’s Word so that you can know what things God wants for you?
- Are you ignoring the things that God tells you to do, but still expect Him to grant your every wish?
I’d like to thank Nathan for getting our new year off to a good start with his insightful series on prayer. You can count on hearing more from Nathan as the year progresses.