In this message, we learn why our prayers sometimes remain unanswered.
Hey everybody, welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you’re here with us today. It’s good to gather together and worship the Lord here at the beginning of this New Year and we are one week into our 21 days of prayer and fasting and so for all of those of you who are praying and fasting with us, you made it through week one, okay. You’re still alive, you didn’t starve to death, life is still okay, you’re moving forward. I was reminded this week as we’re praying and fasting how weak we really are as humans, like how weak our bodies really are as I’ve had conversations with people we’ve all kind of come to the same realization that we are incredibly dependent upon the things of this world.
I think we’re more connected to the things around us than we realize and I think a lot of us are like, no I just need Jesus until all of a sudden you try to pass it on me like, hey, my milkshake, my cheeseburger, my Facebook and all those different kinds of things. We’re dependent upon the things of this world we use it to numb our pain, to cope with life, we try to find satisfaction and comfort and security in these things of the world. I mean, I don’t want to be dependent upon the things of this world, I want to be dependent upon Jesus. And that’s what fasting does, is it reminds us what’s really important and if you are fasting with us this week, you probably understood what Jesus meant when he said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, right? The spirit, your heart is willing, it wants the things of the Lord, but the flesh is weak, our bodies crave the things of this world. So, when we fast, we’re getting things back into alignment, we’re putting them back together back in the right order and believing God forbid great breakthrough.
Week One is the hard week, week two you’ll start hearing the voice of God in new ways, week three is the breakthrough week. So, I want to encourage you, keep moving forward and if you tried to fast and pray this week and it didn’t work out the way that you wanted it to. Hey, can I just say, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is not a religious exercise, so if it didn’t work out the way you wanted to, no big deal, you’re not to tell anybody. It’s no big deal, just start this week. Maybe don’t try whenever you’ve tried last week, try something else this week and don’t let it hijack you from the whole thing. Just say, I’m going to try starting this week and keep moving forward because I know God has something great in store for me. Remember, all fasting is that we’re trying to disconnect from some of the things of this world so we can connect and have a great conversation with God and experience him in new ways, okay.
So, if you got your Bibles, turn with me to John chapter 15. We’re in our series called conversations prayer talking with God and we’re trying to unpack what prayer is really all about and we’re asking Jesus, Lord, teach us to pray so that we might understand how to communicate and pray and have a conversation with God. In week one, we said that prayer is a conversation or a dialogue between two people who love each other, that prayer is not just about asking for things it’s about talking about things, it’s about getting to know God’s heart and about inviting him into our heart and then last week we said that Jesus tells us the secret to an effective prayer life is understanding who we’re praying, that who we are praying to is more important than how we prey or what we say and he said that the secret is that you’re praying to our father and in the sense, Jesus grabs us by the hand and he says come on we’re brothers, I’ve cleaned up your mess, the father is not mad at you anymore and he brings us into the presence of the father and we’re not they’re praying based on our performance or our righteousness where they’re based on Jesus’s performance and his righteousness and so when we pray, it’s as if we’re praying through the cross of Jesus Christ and the father is hearing our prayers as if Jesus himself were praying them. So, that’s where we’ve been and that’s what we’ve been talking about.
And what I want us to do today is I want us to tackle probably the hardest subject in talking about prayer and it’s this unanswered prayers. I think unanswered prayers is one of the reasons we tend to avoid prayer as a topic altogether because it’s incredibly painful and hurtful. John 15:7 Jesus says if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. That’s a great verse, full of faith, full of promise and full of expectation. Ask whatever you wish and it will be given unto you. The only problem is when we try to take that verse and line it up with our life, it doesn’t tend to be very consistent with the experiences that we’ve all had, that you see every person in this room I bet you’ve prayed at least one unanswered prayer at some time in your life. Maybe, it’s a silly thing like Lord please let my team win the game today and they didn’t win the game or you pray that that girl you’re gonna ask to the problem would say yes or you prayed and asked the Lord that that boy would ask you to the problem and it didn’t work out the way you want it to you prayed for an opportunity and it never came to pass, we’ve all got those.
But then a lot of us have more serious ones like Lord please restore my marriage and your marriage doesn’t get restored or God please heal that loved one in my life and they don’t get healed or Lord I need you to bring some relief in my life only the relief never comes. What do we do with that? What do we do with those unanswered prayers and how do we line that back up with what Jesus has said whenever you ask, believe that you have received it and like what don’t we do with that? And this week as I was praying and processing with the Lord and working on this message as I was writing it out, it started to get long and I started to have this understand with the Lord that really there is a whole lot of us sitting in this room today that we’re full of doubt and unbelief and disappointment, and in fact, we’ve pulled away in our relationship with God because at somewhere at some point in time in our life we’ve prayed and God didn’t come through the way that we thought or expected him to come through and so now we start to question his goodness and his promises.
We’re not really sure what to do with those painful unanswered prayers in our lives and that’s the key word painful, because it hurts deep down inside of us there’s this wound or this scar that we don’t understand and we’re not really sure what to do with it. And so, as I was preparing and processing with the Lord this week, this was only supposed to be a one week message but as I was writing it, I really felt like from the Lord this is such a big topic and suddenly people lose their faith over this kind of stuff. They walk away from Jesus because they prayed and it didn’t come to pass the way they wanted to see it and so we’re going to do this two weeks. This is a two part message and I’m going to tell you right now everything I say today has a big Asterix next to it, that if you don’t hear next week’s message you won’t have a full understanding of everything that I’m saying, okay.
So, what I’m saying is this is going to be like a bad movie I’m leaving you with a cliffhanger at the end and you’re gonna have to come back next week, okay, because what I want to do today is I want to talk about some of the very practical side of unanswered prayers so we can understand some of the realities that God has already told us in his work. You see Hosea 4:6, God says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. I think we are destroyed in our prayer life and in our relationship with the Lord because of a lack of knowledge or understanding about what he’s already told us about pray and what he’s already told us about unanswered prayers and that’s kind of what I want us to unpack today because I think there’s these handful of very simple things that we can understand on why we experience some unanswered prayers in our lives, and in fact, before we jump into it, I need you to understand I think the term unanswered prayer it’s the wrong vocabulary. If prayer is a conversation or a dialogue with God, then there’s never an unanswered prayer you don’t have an unanswered dialogue or conversation.
The real vocabulary we should use as an unfulfilled request. It’s a request we’ve made of the Lord that didn’t get fulfilled the way we wanted it. That’s what I think we’re really talking about, but for ease sake because we’re all familiar with the term unanswered prayer, I’m going to stick with unanswered prayer and I’ve gotten, you’re ready for this, six really simple short points to share with you. Now, if you hang out at Valley Creek church you know this is from the Lord because I never give you six points, okay. So, these are really simple and short but I think this is the only way I know how to communicate it to you and I’m trying to set the table for where I want to take you next week. So, are you ready? Okay, I want to encourage you to write these down because I think this will help you. It’s helped me this week in my own life as I processed it. First thing is this the reasons we experienced unanswered prayer is we ask for things that will hurt us. We often ask God for things that will hurt us. I think sometimes we come to the Lord and we ask him for something, we have no idea how damaging that thing would really be in our life. We look at it and it looks really good and through our earthly perspective and our worldly eyes we see it, we want it and we crave it, but we have no idea the chaos, the carnage and the destruction that that thing would actually create in our lives.
Like we have no idea that that job would literally destroy our marriage or that that opportunity could damage our heart or that that relationship could destroy our family. We have no idea sometimes how much the things we ask for would actually hurt us in the end, and if it’s something that will hurt you, God cannot give it to you. It’s not that he won’t give it to you, it’s that he cannot give it to you because it would go against his very nature. He’s a good father, the Bible says he is love, he’s a good shepherd. James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of heavenly lights above. He can only give you good and perfect gifts and so if it’s going to hurt you, he cannot give it to you. But listen, sometimes God loves you too much to say yes and you have to be okay with that. I think of Moses and Elijah for a second, two of these mighty prophets in the Old Testament, mighty man of God.
And do you realize both Moses and Elijah both prayed that they would die. That was their great faith filled prayer requests Lord kill me, take me now. They both prayed that they would die. Now, here’s my question for you and don’t answer it quick because Saturday night got it wrong. Can the Lord answer that prayer, can the Lord fulfill that request? The answer is no because he can’t give you something that will hurt you. Saturday night they all shouted out, yes he can. No, he can’t, because he can’t give you something that will hurt you. You see, Moses was tired of the Israelites, he was tired of the burden and the whining and the complaining, so he’s like Lord take me out, I can’t handle these people. In fact, Moses prayed the prayer of every parent there is I can’t handle these whining people anymore you need to take me now Lord and he cannot answer that prayer because he cannot give you something that will hurt you.
And don’t you know, Moses probably woke up a few days later and got himself back together and was like thankful to the Lord, that God didn’t answer that prayer. If it’s gonna hurt you, he can’t give it to you and I think a lot of times the things that we pray for will hurt us now, but you can have them later. We have got start understanding the way that God works in some of the stuff, like for example, think of my six-year-old boy, Trey, okay. My six year old, he asks me for my stuff all the time. He wants to play with my bow and arrow, he wants to use my power tools and he wants to drive my truck. Now, can I give my son those things? No, if I did you would tell me I was a crazy dad that I was awful because I was giving him something that’s going to hurt him. I can’t give it to him now because it’ll hurt him, but because he’s my son everything I have it already belongs to him. He’s my heir and so at some point in time when he grows and he matures and he develops, he can gladly use my bow and my power tools or my truck. I just can’t give it to them now, I’ll hurt him now but he can have it later.
Do you understand that everything in the universe belongs to your father and there are things that if he gave it to you now it would hurt you now, but you can have it later. There are relationships and destinies and callings and anointings and ministries and opportunities and resources that if God gave them to you right now, it would absolutely hurt you. You don’t have the character or the trust or the maturity or the faith to handle it appropriately and so what God’s saying is, you can’t have that now, yeah it belongs to me and then I’ll give it to you at some point, you can’t have it now because it’ll hurt you but I’ll give it to you later. You’re his son, you’re his heir and everything belongs to you. In fact, Galatians 4:7 says since we are no longer slaves, we’re now sons and a son is also an heir. Everything the father has, it already belongs to you, but he cannot give it to you if it’s going to hurt you. I think some of the prayers that we’re praying in our lives right now, we just don’t understand that it would hurt us if God gave it to us, so he’s saying not now, you got to grow and mature and then I can give it to you. Okay, are you with me on that?
Okay, got to stay with me on these we’re gonna go through them fast. Okay, so the first one is I think we ask for things that can hurt us. Second thing is this is we ask for things we don’t really understand. I think we asked for things we don’t really understand. I think oftentimes in our lives we have a very small or finite picture, we only have a piece of the puzzle and we have an earthly view a worldly perspective and we’re focused in on the here and the now and we know what we want and we know when we want it and we expect God to give it to us when we asked the craving of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the Bible says we see these things and we want them. But if we really had all the information, I think a lot of times we wouldn’t want the very thing that we’re asking for.
Like, remember the story and Mark chapter 10, John and James two brothers Jesus’s disciples they come to Jesus and they assume the position. They get on their knees before Jesus as if they’re praying and they look at Jesus and they say, we want you to do for us whatever we ask. Can you imagine coming to Jesus and looking at him and saying I want you to do for me whatever I ask of you, I mean that’s a pretty bold request. Don’t you think?
And here’s what I think John and James were doing, I think they had a little offline conversation as brothers and they’re like, hey, Jesus said whenever we ask for prayer, believe we received it, it shall be ours, he’s going to leave us and let’s put this thing to a test. So, I think they come to test Jesus and they come and they say, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you and Jesus looks right back at him and he says, what is it that you want me to do for you? Do you understand the shocking revelation in that? Jesus does not condemn them, he does not rebuke them, he is not mad at them, which communicates to us that God honors bold prayers. Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers. He is not afraid of you coming in and asking him for big audacious things, in fact, he welcomes it and he’ll look back at you and say, what is it that you want me to do for you? John and James look back at Jesus and they say we want to sit on your right and your left hand side when you come into your glory.
And Jesus looks right back at him and he says, you do not know what you ask. He says can you drink the cup I’m about to drink or be baptized with the baptism I’m about to be baptized with. In other words, he says can you go and die on the cross with me and they say we can and he says no, you can’t. You do not know what you ask. See, John and James wanted glory, but they didn’t want to go through the cross that would have taken them to that glory. Jesus says, you do not know what you ask. And I think a lot of times in our lives we ask God for things and he looks back at us and says, you just don’t know what you ask. In fact, if we knew all the information, I don’t think we would have. John and James knew what it really entails, they wouldn’t want what they were asking for. In fact, you ever hear the statement that says God’s will is exactly what you would do if you knew all the information, I like that statement.
God’s will is what you would do if you knew all of the information. Our problem is we don’t have all the information and we have to trust that he has a higher perspective, a heavenly view. He understands the picture better than we can see it and I bet in our lives there are hundreds of prayers we have prayed that today looking back on it, we’re like, I’m so thankful that God didn’t answer that prayer the way I prayed it because I did not know what I was asking for. Let me give you a real personal example from my own life. About six years ago, I was on staff here as an associate pastor, I wasn’t the lead pastor at the time and we had lived in Texas for about a year and honestly we just really didn’t want to be here. So, I started praying that the Lord would send us somewhere else to plan a church to just be totally honest with you, we didn’t want to live in Texas ,okay.
Like, hang on, hang on, hadn’t seen the light yet. Okay, just let me take you where I’m going and so we were praying Lord send us to plant a church or let us be a lead pastor somewhere else, send us, and it was a noble prayer in my heart because I’m like I’m going to tell people about you and let me step into my calling and my destiny and all these different kinds of things, well I think it was one of those you do not know what you ask prayers, because the Lord never fulfilled it and honestly I got a little disappointed and frustrated with him, that it wasn’t coming to pass and I can stand up here today and tell you I am so thankful the Lord did not answer that prayer because I would have missed out on you. I would have missed out on what God is doing here and what God is doing in this place. I did not know what I was asking. In fact, I think God would have answered that prayer, I probably would have been a pastor in Kentucky, okay, or worse, Oklahoma. I mean, we’re Texans now. Okay, so let me get there. Listen, Gods know it’s always better than your yes and you have to be okay with trusting that. He has a bigger perspective that you cannot see, sometimes you just do not know what you’re asking for, okay.
Third thing is this is we ask for things of this world to satisfy our hearts. We ask God to give us things of this world to satisfy our hearts. I think a lot of the prayers that we pray are asking God to give us something to meet a need inside of us that only he was created to me. I think we ask God to give us things of this world to cope with life, to numb our pain, to bring us comfort and safety and security to depend upon. I think we ask God to give us things so we can experience satisfaction and we forget that he is our satisfaction. See, God is your life. He’s your love, he’s your hope, he’s your company and security. All that stuff you cannot find that in the world, it is in God and God alone and I think a lot of the prayers we pray are asking God to give us something to meet a need inside of us that only he was created to me. Like for example, let’s say you come to the Lord and you’re praying, God I really want this accomplishment or this achievement in my life and it sounds really good, but there’s a motive.
Sometimes you’re not even aware of it, but the real motive down here is that you want that accomplish or achievement so you can feel good about yourself and have some self esteem. Never gonna feel good about yourself outside the Lord. We come to the Lord and think I really need this promotion, will you give me a new job title, will you give me this opportunity over here and maybe the underlying motive is that you want that promotion so you can finally feel a sense of value or worth. Your value is only found in the Lord. Or maybe you come to the Lord, if we can have this possession, God if you would give our family this thing, this car, this house or whatever this thing is, then life would be good and really your underlying motive is that you’re bored, you’re discontent in your soul and you’re looking for peace. You’re not gonna find peace in a think, it’s only found in Jesus. Or how about a relationship, God give me this relationship or change this relationship. What are you looking for? You’re really looking for love which is only found low. How about money? I think we pray for money, God give us more money. We only had more money, we would be safe and secure. We’re really looking for safety and security, which is only found in the Lord.
And when you pray and ask God to give you something to meet the need inside of you, that only he was created to meet. He cannot give it to you, because if he gave it to you, he would literally be handing you an idol. You see idolatry is anytime you ascribe more worth and significance to something then you give to God Himself. And if you come to the Lord and say, I need you to give me this thing, you’re asking him to give you something to need inside of you that only he was created to meet. If he gave it to you, he would literally be handing you an idol because you’re saying that thing has more worth and significance in your life than God himself does and God cannot hand you an idol. He wants you to desire him, he wants to meet all your needs. You see, I’m convinced that the great failure of our prayer lives, is we want what God can give us more than we want God himself. That’s the failure of our prayer lives. We want what God can give us more than we want God himself.
Psalm 37:4 says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. It doesn’t say delight yourself in the things of this world and God will give you himself as well. Delight yourself in the Lord, let him be your needs, let him be your trust, your dependence, your satisfaction, your comfort, your security, your love and all those things. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Do you not understand that God longs to bless you and longs to give you the things you desire, longs to answer your prayers and he just wants to make sure those two things are in the right order. You see when you pray you have to stop and ask yourself this question. Do I want what I’m asking for more than I want God himself? And if the answer to that question is yes, then the unanswered prayer or the unfulfilled request really has nothing to do with the Lord. It has everything to do with what’s inside your heart. Do you want your healing more than you want the healer? Do you want your freedom more than you want the freer? Do you want your safety and security more than you want the safe one?
Okay, the greatest thing that God can give you is the gift of himself, which is what he longs to give you. And from there, everything else takes care of itself, okay. Are you with me on that one? That’s hard, these get a little bit harder as we go along, okay. Fourth one is this, we ask for things to build our kingdom instead of his kingdom. We talked about it last week, Jesus says when you pray for your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Nowhere in scripture are you ever told to build your own kingdom. In fact, James 4:3 says when you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, because you’re asking for your kingdom, selfish reasons and it’s all about us. In fact, I hate to break this to you, but God is not advancing your kingdom, he’s advancing his kingdom, okay. He’s advancing his kingdom and he invites us to come and be a part of his kingdom, then we get to be sons and daughters, heirs, partnering with him to bring his kingdom on this earth and anytime you’re asking for things for your kingdom, your Kingdom just rose up and became a kingdom in conflict with his kingdom.
Because he says there can only be one king and only be one kingdom and so when you’re making it about your kingdom, you are actually in competition and in conflict with God and God cannot resource any opposing kingdoms. He will only resource his kingdom. And it sounds really big, but really it’s really subtle I think, like I don’t think anybody in this room, I don’t think you’re praying for a scepter and a golden throne. If you are, that’s just weird. Stop praying for that, it’s not gonna happen. But we pray in a way that the world would revolve around us. Like has anybody ever prayed, Lord changed my spouse because I just can’t deal with them anymore? Don’t you dare leave me hanging out here right now, like I’m the only one that’s prayed that prayer. If you are married, you have prayed, Lord change my spouse because I just can’t handle this right now or how about change my kids because I don’t want to deal with it or change my boss because I can’t handle that guy anymore or change my mom because I cannot, when she way she acts and things that she’s I just can’t handle this anymore.
Do you understand those are prayers for your kingdom, because anytime you pray Lord change someone else so that my needs will be met, your kingdom. His kingdom his Lord changed me so I can love my spouse better, changed me so I can honor my boss, change me so I can serve my kids. You see the difference there. Or how about this you see an opportunity in life, they can make more money and you’re like Lord I need that opportunity will you give that to me and in the back of your mind it’s all about you, you’ve already spent the money before God’s even giving you the job, you’re gonna buy this, fix that, pay that off and do this kind of thing, right. That’s your kingdom. God’s kingdom is Lord I see that opportunity and if you blessed me with those resources, I could give a whole lot more to your kingdom and invest in a whole lot more areas so your name could move forward, you see the difference to that.
Honestly, I think a lot of the prayers that don’t get answered in our lives are prayers for our kingdom and we just don’t realize that literally we’ve come from inside of his kingdom and pulled out and we’ve actually started to attack him back by saying our kingdom is going to be superior. Only Jesus gets the scepter in the throne. It revolves around Jesus not us and I think a lot of our prayers revolve around us not Jesus, okay. Fifth one is this, is that we ask for things with unreconciled relationships. We ask for things with unreconciled relation, I think we come to the Lord and ask him for stuff while our relationships are in total chaos. Our marriage is falling apart, we got a major brokenness with our kid, we are offended at out boss or our friend and we come to the Lord and we want to talk to him about a promotion, about an opportunity, about changing our circumstances, about blessing us in some way and then we offended and mad at him that he’s not answering that request. And what we forget is that that’s a prayer barrier in our life.
You see, last week, Jesus says when you pray say our father and what we have to remember is that the father always cares more about the peace of his family than he does about fulfilling your request. A good father will always care more about the harmony and the unity of his family than he does about fulfilling the requests of his children. In fact, the needs of the family always supersede the desire of the individual. It’s a principle you got to learn in life. It’s true in your home that the needs of your family supersede the desire of any individual. It’s true here with us, that the needs of our family always will supersede your and my personal desire or preference about how we should do church or what’s happening, it’s about the need of the family. If you are a leader and you lead a team or a department or an organization or you manage people or a ministry, you have to remember the needs of the team and the whole always, not sometimes, always supersede the desires of the individual and the healthy family needs healthy relationships.
And so if you come to the Lord with broken relationships in your life and you want to ask him for something, he’s not mad, he’s not annoyed, he just let’s you come in and he says okay that’s great let’s set that over there for now, what I want to talk to you about is your relationships. Listen to these verses, Matthew 5:23 says therefore, if you’re offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, is offended at you or broken relationship, leave your gift there in front of the altar, first go and be reconciled to your brother and then come offer your gift. God says hey you want to come and meet with me, I want to meet with you but let’s sit down whatever you wanted to talk about or do and let’s talk about your relationships first. In fact, I’ll go with you. Let’s go and let’s reconcile that thing. Or how about this one, First Peter 3:7 husbands, guys we’re in trouble. In the same way be considered as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and errors with you have this gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
God says he cares more about us learning to love and honor and respect our wives than he does about us asking for that promotion or that new opportunity or our ambitions or all those different kinds of things. How about this one, Romans 12:18, as far as it depends on you live in peace with all men. As far as it depends on you, which means have you done everything you can do, have you confessed and repented, have you apologized and forgiven, have you asked for forgiveness, have you done everything you can do to reconcile that relationship and if the answer is yes, then the Lord is no longer going to deal with you about it, he’s going to deal with them and you’re free and you’ve got that relationship taken care of now and you can go back to it with the Lord. But if the answer is no, then God’s gonna point you back to that. See a good father cares more about the peace and the harmony and the unity of his family more than he cares about fulfilling our requests.
In fact, you remember the story in Mark 12, a teacher comes up to Jesus and he says good teacher and he says what is the most important commandment that there is? In other words, he says out of all the hundreds of commandments that God has given the people of Israel, what is the most important one, what’s the most important thing to God, it’s what he’s really asking. And what does Jesus say, he says the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, Jesus looks back at the man and he says the most important thing to God is relationships and if relationships are the most important thing to God, then God will always address your relationships before he answers your requests. He will address your relationships before he answers your requests, so have you loved them the way I have loved you, have you forgiven them the way I forgiven you? And if we could be totally honest, we hate this point. In fact, all of us, including me only wish I had five points today, not six, then we could just move this one out and yet I think a lot of us stop praying because of this one, because when there’s an unreconciled relationship in your life every time you go to the Lord, the spirit of the living God brings it up.
You’re coming to ask him to bless your kids and it’s like whoop, he brings this thing up and you’re like umm I don’t want to deal with that, I want to talk about my kids right now, and we’re like where’s it coming from, it’s the spirit, because a good father doesn’t move on. You’re like, let’s just move on, he doesn’t move on until there’s harmony and peace and unity back into his family. Listen, don’t lose your relationship or your conversation with God over an unreconciled relationship. A lot of us just say I don’t want God to keep reminding me of this, so I’m not gonna talk to him anymore, I’m going to go live my life and do it my way. Okay, don’t lose it for that. Forgive, bless, let it go and talk to the Lord, he’ll give you the strength. Don’t lose your conversation with him over that. He cares about your relationships about the unity of his family, that’s the most important thing to him.
The sixth one is this, is we just don’t ask for anything. Like a lot of times, we just don’t ask. James 4:2 says you have not because you ask not. Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find knock in the door and it will be open, which implies that we actually ask, seek and knock. We got to stop just assuming that the Lord is just going to do it just because we thought about it and then we get mad and disappointed in him. You got to talk to him, you got to ask him and he says ask me for big things, be bold, have an audacious faith, come and request that the kingdom would come. Listen, people pray for big things in the Bible and God loves it because it honors him. Hannah wanted to get pregnant for a year, she kept praying and God gave her a baby. Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still in the sky so we could win the victory, God made the sun stop and they won. The thief on the cross looks at Jesus and says, can I be with you in paradise today. Jesus looks at him and says, I will see in a few minutes. You want talk about a big prayer, a thief on the cross asking Jesus. Yeah, big prayers, pray it.
You see those six things are really subtle, they’re really simple and we all get them. Our problem is we get out of tune with God and then we get offended at him. In fact, if you go back to our verse John 15:7, if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. We like to ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you, we just forget there’s a conditional clause before it. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. In other words, Jesus says if you remain in me, if you abide in me, pursue me, love me, seek me, be dependent upon me, trust me, let me meet all the needs of your heart and your life, if you have lots of conversations with me, if you remain in me and my words remain in you if you value my voice and care about what I’ve already said and consumed my scriptures and put them inside of you and believe and receive the things that I’ve already talked to you and told you about, then you can ask whatever you wish and it will be given unto you.
In other words, he says if you get to know me and you get to know my word, then you will know what to pray and it will be given to you. In other words, Jesus says you got to be in tune with me. We forget that the second half of that verse has a conditional clause before it, you’ve got to be in tune. God wants to tell you his secrets, he wants to teach you to pray and he wants to reveal big things to you, but you got to take the time to remain in him and let his words remain in you. That’s on you and me and the more conversations you have with God, the more you get to know his heart. The more you know his heart, the more aligned you are with him; and the more aligned you are with God, the more it changes what you ask for. And you find yourself asking and receiving because when you remain in him and his word remain in you, it purifies your motives, your hearts, your desires and everything changes. And you start asking him and the kingdom starts coming, we may close with this.
I think about my six year old little boy for a second again, Trey, and if you look at his life, his ask and receive ratio as my son is pretty low, six-year-old little boy. He asks for lots of things, he didn’t receive all that much of what he has for why, because he’s learning to be in tune with me. He’s learning his father’s heart, he’s learning how to value his father’s voice, he’s learning to understand where his father is trying to take him and he’s learning to become in tune with me. And so sometimes my six-year-old little boy, he will come to me and he will ask for a big piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes before dinner and when he asked for a piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes before dinner, what am I going to say? No. But if he comes to me and asked me for a big piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes after dinner, I’m gonna say yes almost every single time. Why? Because now he’s in tune with me and he understands what I’m doing and how I’m trying to take care of them and where I’m leading him.
And when I tell my son, no he cannot have that piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes before dinner, does that make me a bad dad? No. Does it mean I don’t care about him? No. Does it mean that when he asks me for things, the answer will always be no? No, just means he’s out of tune with me. See, I think we spend a lot of our life asking God for a big piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes before dinner. I think we get out of tune with him and then we get mad at him because it doesn’t work the way we want it to. When God says no you can’t have a big piece of chocolate cake 20 minutes before dinner, does that make him a bad dad? Does it mean he doesn’t care about you know? No. Does it mean when you ask him for things he’s always going to say no? No, it just means you’re out of tune with him.
When my six-year-old boy asked me for that cake 20 minutes before dinner, he begs, he pleads, he negotiates, he’ll tell me to clean up his room, he’ll behave for the next six weeks, the puppy dog face and all of it, right. It doesn’t change how I’m going to respond. But when he asked me 20 minutes after dinner, all he says is, dad could I have a piece of that cake. Sure, buddy, here you go. When we come to God and we’re trying to stand on one foot and say the right things and babble and use religious words, that’s the 20 minutes before dinner. It’s already communicated. If you feel like you’re trying to negotiate with God and convince him, it’s telling you you’re already out of tune with him, because he says the father already knows what you need before you ask him. You don’t have to pray a bunch of religious words like the pagans or like the religious people, just talk to your father. And when you’re in tune with your father, you say dad can I have that and he says absolutely.
See, we’ve got to stop being offended at God for us being out of tune with him and I’m convinced that a lot of the unanswered prayer in our life is because we have not remained in him nor his words remain in us and then we get mad at him and maybe you’re sitting in this room today and you’ve got doubt or unbelief or disappointment towards God because of a prayer somewhere way back in your life or recently that it’s not coming. Maybe it’s just that you’re out of tune with God. In fact, can we just stop and examine ourselves like before we get to this place of see, he never and he won’t and I don’t believe him and his promises don’t come to pass and he’s not a good father and he answers other people’s prayers, but he won’t answer my before we go down that whole thing, can we just stop and say well let me step back and look at my heart and see if I’ve gotten out of tune with him, because if I’m out of tune with him, it’s really got nothing to do with him, it’s got everything to do with me. That’s where I think a lot of unanswered prayer comes from.
The only question left to be asked is, what do you do if you feel like you are in tune with him and you are praying kingdom centered prayers and it is about Jesus and not about you and you believe you’re in tune with him as the 20 minutes after dinner and you’re coming to him and it’s not happening, what do you do with that? We have to come back next week to answer that. I told you. Close your eyes and bow your heads with me. I had to set all that up for you for this because before I can take you to where I want to take you next week about being in tune with God and not seeing the answers we want to see, you have to understand this first side, you have to understand that there are some basic practical things that God has already told us and he says, we’re destroyed for lack of knowledge. I don’t want you to be destroyed for lack of knowledge. I want you to understand who he is and what he has said. I want you to understand how he’s invited you to be in tune with him.
What’s the Holy Spirit saying to you today? Maybe for years you’ve held on to an offense to the Lord because he didn’t answer the prayer you wanted him to answer, he didn’t fulfill the request the way you thought he should and maybe today is we’re looking at his word the Holy Spirit’s just showing you that maybe it was your were out of tune. Maybe it would have hurt you. Some of you, you missed out on an opportunity somewhere in life, then you’re mad at God that he didn’t give it to you, I think the Lord is telling you today that would have destroyed your heart and he wasn’t willing to let that happen and you got to forgive and let go and move on with him. Some of you have asked for things and it’s like God said you didn’t know what you were asking, you didn’t see all the things that I could see and I love you and I protect you and I won’t let that happen in your life. Some of you spent your whole life praying for things for your kingdom and you never understand why did the people around you ask and they receive and you ask him nothing happens. Maybe it’s because it’s all been about you.
You see, we kind of have to get this perspective before we can understand the other side of it where we really can have some questions and some faith struggles and so my hope for you today is that that doubt and that disappointment can start being washed away. In fact, Ben said I think the Lord just wants to heal some of our hearts, wants to heal us from a hurt or a wound we have towards him from something way back somewhere and so here’s what I’d asked you to do this week just spent some time processing with the Lord as we fast and pray. Say, Lord, the unanswered prayers in my life, can you start peeling back the layers and show me where I may have been out of tune with you. So, father, we thank you so much that you are a good father and you love us and you care for us. Jesus, thank you that you are teaching us how to pray and part of learning to pray is learning what to do with unanswered requests, unfulfilled things that we’ve asked you for and having a revelation and an understanding of that, so Jesus peel back the layers, help us see where you were in the midst of the disappointments and doubts that we might have in our pasts.
Holy Spirit, I pray this week that you would just heal our hearts and sew up any scars and wounds from things of yesterday and that you would draw us to remain in Jesus and may his words remain in us. Lord, thanks for what you’re doing in these 21 days of prayer and fasting or believing you for big things. Hey, if you’re here and you need prayer for anything these people are here to pray for you. We want to pray for you. This is 21 days, we’re seeking the Lord. If you need a miracle, come pray with them. If you’re new to Valley Creek church, I’d love to invite you to guest central, it’s right out here. We just love to introduce ourselves to you as a way of reminder we’ve reordered our services so now giving is at the end, so for those of you who give your tithes and your offerings, there’s boxes in all the doors as a response as a way to worship and honor the Lord, but may you go this week knowing you have a good father, who loves to talk to you. Blessings.