We see very clearly in the New Testament that Jesus prayed all the time. He assumed that his disciples would pray. He said to them “when you pray” not if you pray. And so if anyone ever asks, “If God is all knowing why should I bother praying ?” the simple answer is because Jesus prayed and told us to do the same. Jesus prayed as if it made a difference. Although Jesus offered no metaphysical proofs of the effectiveness of prayer, the very fact that he did it establishes its worth. And if we are serious about being followers of Jesus, then we sit up and take notice of his command to pray even if we struggle with prayer on a philosophical level.
But because the issue of does prayer work is so troubling for many people I would like to spend some time with you now looking at it. We are going to circle around the mystery of how God answers prayer for a time together.
Christians believe that God always answers prayer. The thing to remember however is that God does not all answer our requests in the way that we would like. God always answers our prayers in one of three ways. Yes, No, or Later.
Most of us are happy when God says yes to our prayers, although you should be warned that sometimes we get more than we bargained for when God says yes to our prayers, because the yes may lead to consequences we could never have imagined. The infamous Oscar Wilde said “when the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” So sometimes in a clear, and often dramatic way, God will say yes to our prayers……
Tell a Personal Story of Prayer being answered with a “yes”.
When I was in high school, I was part of a thriving Christian Fellowship Group that grew very quickly in a short period of time. We were entirely student led, and it was becoming overwhelming for us, and we knew the group needed some leadership help. We gathered a bunch of members together one day to pray for leadership. I was praying with the group closest to the classroom door, and a knock at the door interrupted us. In walked a man who said, “Hi, my name is Dave. I’m a pastor in the area, and wondered if you guys needed any help.”
Wow! Sometimes God answers prayer with a dramatic “yes” just at the right time!
Question: Can you share examples of how God has answered or not answered prayer in your life?