Unanswered Prayers Part 2

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In this message, we learn how maturity embraces the mystery of unanswered prayer.

Good job, that was great worshiping the Lord. I’m proud of you guys. Man, that’s what it’s all about, encountering the presence of God. And welcome to Valley Creek church. I’m so glad that you’re here with us, we are in our last week, of three weeks of prayer, and fasting, and I’m proud of us as a church for creating space in our lives, to have great conversations with the Lord. And I’ve been hearing some great stories, of what God has been doing, stories of people getting physically healed, and experiencing emotional and spiritual breakthrough, people hearing the voice of God for the first time in their lives, because when we create space for God to move in our lives, he always honors it, he shows up, he moves.

And so, let me encourage you, this is the last week of praying and fasting, this is usually the breakthrough week, so don’t give up, press in, God’s got something great for you. And man, the way you guys just worshiped for this last little bit here, I want to invite you, come hang out with us tonight at Beyond, we’ve got our Beyond service in here, it’s our first Beyond, actually in the new worship center, and it’s just a time of prayer and worship together where we just go a little bit beyond what we do here on the weekends, and we’re just believing God for some great things.

I’m believing he’s going to show up and move because we as a church have been creating space to honor him and to welcome him. So come hang out with us tonight, we’re going to have a great time of extended prayer and worship.

Alright, anybody ready to resolve the cliff hanger from last week? We rarely – we rarely do it this way. So if you were here last week, you know that we started, or we’re in a series called Conversations, and I shared a message with you called, Unanswered Prayer Part 1, and we said that if we’re going to learn to pray, we have to understand unanswered prayer, which is probably one of the most difficult topics there is to tackle, in our journey with Jesus. Unanswered prayer creates a lot of doubt, and disappointment, and discouragement, and hurt, and pain in our lives, with the lord.

And we said that, last week, it was really the setting of the table for where I want to take us today.

Hosea 4:6, God says, my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, that we’re literally destroyed because we don’t know what he has already told us about prayer and unanswered prayer. So we walked through some real basic practical stuff.

And we look at John 15:7, which was really our theme verse when Jesus says, “If you remain in my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you,” we like the last part, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you, we forget it’s a conditional clause, if you remain in me, he says, if you abide in me, and connect with me, and have conversations with me, and love me, and pursue me, and my words remain in you, if you value my voice and consume my scriptures and put them inside of you, then, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be give onto you. In other words, Jesus says, when we’re in tune with God, when we abide in him, that’s when we have an effective prayer life, where we see the answered prayers. And our problem is, we want to ask for what we want, without remaining in him, or his words remaining in us, and so we get out of tune with him, and that’s what we talked about last week, and I gave you six really practical points. I’m so proud of you for weathering through six practical points last week.

To make it up to you today, I have no points for you, okay? No points today, just one big idea, I want to go after the heard. And so if you got your bibles, turn with me to Matthew 11 and Luke 18. Matthew 11 and Luke 18. What do we do when we feel like we are in tune with Jesus and we don’t experience answered prayer? What do we do when we feel like we’re asking, seeking, and knocking and it’s not happening the way that we want it to? What do we do when we have a big faith and we believe, and they’re kingdom centered prayers and we believe it would glorify God, and we don’t have selfish motives, and the prayer isn’t being answered the way we want it to, what do we do when God doesn’t meet our expectations and we’re disappointed in him?

We’re going to go after the heart today, and if your heart is ready, I think he has some healing for us. Matthew 11:1 says, “After Jesus had finished instructing his 12 disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John the Baptism heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?

Jesus replied, go back and report to John what you here and see, the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the good news is preached to the poor, blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

This was an incredibly powerful story and you have to see it play out in your mind. Jesus is out doing ministry and the more he does ministry, the bigger the crowds begin to grow. The power of God is present, he’s healing people, he’s teaching things unlink things anybody has ever heard before, and his ministry is beginning to swell, it’s growing larger and larger, and all the while, John the Baptist is sitting in prison. You see, he’s been arrested by King Herod for teaching truth, for talking about the Kingdom of God. And Jesus is doing these great things, and John is sitting in prison, and days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and John is just sitting there.

And he hears the reports about what Jesus is doing, and you have to read the emotion in the story. Listen, the bible is amazing, because it’s real people, just like you and me, real life, real hearts, real wounds. Read the emotion into the story. Here’s how it plays out in my mind’s eye. John’s been sitting there, days, weeks, months, hearing about what Jesus is doing.

And one day, he calls his disciples in and says, I need to talk to you, guys. And in my mind, I picture John, he’s just pacing back and forth in his prison cell, and his disciples come in and he says, listen, I need you to go find Jesus for me, and I need you to go and ask him a question, I need you to go and ask him, are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?

In other words, I need you to go and say, are you really the lord? Because if you’re really the lord, I don’t understand why you’re not coming to get me out of this prison. If you’re really the Christ, you’re not living up to me expectations, if you’re really the lord, if you’re really the Christ, you would come and get me out of here, and answer my prayer. Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?
John’s disciples say, okay, to John, and they leave the prison, and they go and they search and they find Jesus.

And in my mind, I see it’s a great day of ministry, Jesus is doing ministry, and he’s healing people and teaching great things, and the crowd is massive, it swelled around him, and John’s disciples stepped back and they just watch him for a while. And then there’s a break in the action and Jesus steps away for a moment, and they walk up to Jesus and in my mind, they don’t even make eye contact with Jesus, they just looked right down at the ground, and they say, Jesus, we don’t know if you know this or not, but John is in jail, and in my mind, I see Jesus take a big breath and he kind of looks down to the ground too and says, “Yeah, I know.” “Well, John sent us to come and ask you, like, are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?”

In other words, “Jesus, John wants to know, are you coming to get him out of jail?” And Jesus looks back into those disciples. I think he takes a big deep breath and he says, “Go back and tell John what you see in here.”

“Tell him, the blind receive sight. The deaf are hearing. The lame are walking. The lepers are being cured. The dead are being raised. Good news is being preached to the poor for the time. Go tell John the Kingdom of God is here and now, it’s happening. Everything he gave his life for, it’s happening. The power and the movement of God, it’s come. Go tell him what you say in here and tell him, blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. In other words, tell him, blessed is the man who does not walk away because I don’t do for him what he thinks I should do for him. Go tell John I’m not coming this time.”

John’s disciples are probably confused and shocked and they walked away from Jesus and they go back. And John, you know, he’s sitting in the jail looking at the bars waiting. Saying, “Did you find Jesus?” “Yeah, John, we found Jesus.” “What did he have to say?” And they look at John and they say, “Well, He wanted us to tell you the blind receives sight. The deaf are hearing. The dead are being raised. The lepers are being cured and it’s crazy, John. He didn’t just tell us it, we saw it.”

“We watched what was happening. The Kingdom of Heaven, it’s here and now it’s at hand. And Jesus wanted us to tell you, blessed is the man who does not walk away because I don’t do for him what he thinks I should do for him. Jesus isn’t coming this time, John.”

You see, if anybody should expect answered prayer from Jesus, it was John the Baptist. John the Baptist, Jesus says was the greatest person who ever lived on the earth up until the time of Jesus. There’s no one born off a woman has been greater than John the Baptist. Greatest person, greatest human that ever lived on the earth up until the time of Jesus. And if not for that reason, if I’m John, I’m like, “Hey, Jesus, that’s fine.

You at least need to come get me out of here because we family, we cousins. Alright? Listen, don’t make me call my mama, she’ll call your mama and there will be some drama between our mamas. You know what I’m saying? Like you need to come. We’re family, Jesus. And if not for that, how about this, I’ve given my whole life for you. My whole life has been about filling in the valleys and lowering the mountains and preparing the way for the Lord.”

“I’ve lived in the desert eating locust and honey. I’ve been wearing camel’s clothes, Jesus. Do you know how itchy camel’s clothes are? You owe this to me. Come get me out of here.” And Jesus says, “I’m not coming this time, John.” And what’s crazy is, Jesus is walking around and it’s like he’s answering every sinner’s prayer there is. He’s answering sinner’s prayers, everywhere he goes. Prostitutes, adulteresses, tax collectors, thieves, gentiles, Canaanite, Romans, the worst of the worst, the people you would think would be the last people Jesus would ever answer their prayers.

Their prayers are getting answered left and right everywhere Jesus goes. And here’s John the Baptist sitting in jail and God’s not answering his prayer. How do you explain that? You see in my mind, I’m sure at some point in time, one of John’s disciples comes to John while he’s sitting in jail and just kind of walks up to John and says, “Hey, John, you know, me and the boys were talking. And like you, we’ve heard a lot of Jesus’ teaching and Jesus says He answers prayers.”

“And so, you know, we were talking and we just got to thinking, you know, John, the reason Jesus hasn’t come to get you is probably because there’s some kind of unconfessed sin in your life. God answers prayer, so it’s got to be on your side. And if you would just confess that sin, John, I think Jesus will come and He’ll get you out of here. You just need to confess it. Me and the boys agreed there’s something in your lifer you’re not telling us. You just need to confess it.” Can I tell you, please, please, please never do that to people. Never do that to people. You have no idea the damage and the carnage that creates in their lives.

Listen, does God answer your prayers based on your performance? No. Then He doesn’t not answer your prayers based on your failures. If he doesn’t answer your prayers based on your performance, he doesn’t answer your prayers based on your failures. Jesus says, “When you pray, say Our Father.” The “our” is not our, it’s you and Jesus. He grabs you by the hand, walks you to The Father and says, “You’re not here based on your performance or your perfection, you’re here based on my performance and my perfection.”

And when you pray, you’re praying through the cross of Jesus Christ. And it’s as if the Father is hearing your prayers. As if Jesus himself were praying it. That’s why we say in the name of Jesus. It’s, I’m here based on his performance as if he was praying, not my performance, not as if I was praying and let it be so. Okay? In fact, James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” We read that verse, we’re like, “That’s awesome. I need to find a righteous man to pray for me. It’s powerful, it’ effective. Anybody know a righteous man and he can pray for me.”

Listen, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, do you understand that verse is you? You can replace it and it could say, the prayer of you — fill in your name, is powerful and effective. Why? Because you’re righteous. 2nd Corinthians 5:21, “God made him Jesus who knew no sin, to be sinned for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Even if you had a bad day yesterday. Hebrews 8:12, “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” Romans 5:19, “Through the disobedience of one man, Adam, many were made sinners but through the obedience of one man, Jesus, many more were made righteous.” You’re righteous. So your prayers are not answered based on your performance or your failure at all. We got to settle that thing. You are saved by grace through faith which means you pray by grace through faith. So can we kind of settle that one and stop trying to tell people it’s unconfessed sin or thinking about it in your own? There is no correlation between behavior and answered prayer.

They don’t correlate. I mean, how do you explain some people in our church I’ve seen that are Godly people that walked with the Lord, they love the Lord with everything they’ve got. Their whole lives they walked with God, they get cancer. And we pray for them and they don’t get healed.

And then some person who’s been living out in the world, doing their own life, their whole life goes to the doctor, get to report they have cancer, they’re terrified, they show up here one weekend, come down to the front after service, we pray for them. Bam, just like that, they’re instantly and miraculously cured. How do you explain that? I can’t explain that to you.

I can just tell you, Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance and God is incredibly kind to sinners.” He’s always drawing them unto Himself. It’s His kindness that leads to repentance. So we got to stop telling people it’s your unconfessed sin and your life is leading to the unanswered prayer. In fact, when you say that to somebody, you release doubt and you release the spirit of fear over their life because now, they’re starting to think, “It’s me and I messed up and what did I do. And it’s got to be my fault that this horrible thing is happening.” No, instead, grab them by the hand and say, “I don’t know what’s been going on, it don’t really matter.

Because Jesus says, when we pray, we pray based on His perfection, His righteousness. Let’s go talk to our Father together.” Okay? Change this, okay? I bet you another one of John’s disciple’s walked up too after the unconfessed sin thing didn’t work out you know. Poor John he probably confessed everything he could think of.

He was like, “When I was a kid, I stole someone else’s locust because I was hungry. I just — I never shared it with anybody.” You know, so that thing didn’t work out for him. You know you’re desperate when you’re stealing locust, I’m just saying. Another one of the disciples probably came to him and said, “John, did you try — fill in the blank? Did you do, dot, dot, dot? We’re not sure you’ve done it all. Like have you prayed in tongues? Did you get anointed with oil? Did you get the elders? We’ll go get the elders for you? Have you done a prophetic act? Did you proclaim and declare?

Did you use the right verses? Did you assume the position and close your eyes and fold your hands and all that?” As if there’s some kind of formula for answered prayer. There’s no formula for answered prayer. There’s no formula, it’s in the Kingdom of God. As much as we’d like there to be, there’s none. There’s principles, but there’s no formulas. Why? Because relationship is never based on formula. Look at Jesus. He rarely healed people in the gospel the same way twice. Think about it for a second, the blind man, right?

One blind man, he walks up to him and says, receive your sight. Bloop, the guy can see. The next blind man he walks up to him and spits in his hand, rub some mud, takes the mud and puts it in the man’s eyes and he can see. I want to be the first guy. You can be the second guy. We’re all getting healed here but I’m going to be the first guy, okay?

Or how about the lepers? To the 10 lepers, he says, “Go show yourself to the priest.” As they went, they were healed. The one leper, he reaches out his hand and he touches Him and says, “I am willing to be cleaned.” The little girl who is dead, Jesus reaches out, takes a hold of her. The woman with the flow of blood reaches out and takes a hold of him. He never does it the same way twice. Why? Because God’s doing different things in different people’s lives. So it’s not about, did you do the right thing or did you do the wrong thing. You can’t look at someone’s life and say, “Well, they got an answered prayer by doing this. If I do that, I’ll get an answered prayer as well.

That’s not how it works. In fact, did you ever think about this? Jesus had unanswered prayer. Did you ever think about it that way? Jesus himself had unanswered prayer.
He’s in the garden of Gethsemane and He prays, “Father, everything is possible for you, let this cup pass from me.” In other words, “I know you can do everything, I don’t want to go to the cross.” And one chapter later, he’s hanging on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You’re going to tell Jesus, because He’s got unconfessed sin in His life? Serious. I don’t know why that’s funny but if you want to laugh, we can all laugh. Or because he didn’t get the formula right? The guy who’s telling you, abide and then you’ll see answered prayers. He didn’t get the formula?

How about the Apostle Paul who three times pleaded with the Lord, take this thorn from my flesh. Some kind of physical ailment. We don’t know what it was. Three times. And Paul says, “The Lord said back to me, ‘Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. My power’s made perfect in your weakness.’” In other words, “Paul, I’m not going to answer it the way that you want me.”

You’re going to tell Paul because there’s unconfessed sin or he didn’t get the formula right? The guy who wrote half the New Testament that teaches us how to pray, he didn’t pray it right? So how do you explain it? Ready for a really big theological answer? I can’t. It’s a mystery.

The Kingdom of God is full of mystery. Isiah 55, God says, “My ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” The Kingdom of God is full of mystery. Unanswered prayer doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with Him. And if when John asked for an answer, Jesus’ response was, “Blessed is the man who does not walk away because I don’t do for him what he thinks I should do for him.” Then that answer needs to be enough for us because what Jesus said to John is, “John, it’s a mystery and you won’t understand it and that has to be okay. Have you ever felt like John? Everyone else’s prayers are getting answered but not yours. I have.

And to be real honest with you, I’m going to share something with you and I’m just going to ask you be a people of honor, please don’t talk about this. If you want to do anything, just pray with me on it. But my little girl has been very sick since she’s been born. She’s four years old. Very few people know how sick she is, even fewer know the toll that it’s taken on her and it’s taken on our family. And I’ve done everything I know to do to pray for my little girl to see her get healed. Desperation leaves you with no shame. If you’ve been desperate, you know that’s true, leaves you with no shame, you’ll do anything, done everything.

Prayed in tongues over my little girl, I’ve anointed her with the oil, we’ve brought her to the elders, we proclaimed and declared everything we can think of, I’ve applied the cross of Jesus to her life, we put worship music on at night in her room, we’ve cast out everything, I’ve confessed, everything, I mean I’ve done everything I know to do and yet my little girl has yet to be healed. How do I explain that to you? I can’t. I can tell you it’s a mystery. And I know some of you will look at me and be like, “Yeah, but you’re the pastor. You should get those kinds of prayers answered.” No, listen.

The mystery of God touches us all. There’s no one who is immune from the mystery of the kingdom of God. It’s a mystery. But blessed is the man who does not walk away because God doesn’t do for them what he thinks he should do for him. Listen, at the end of the day, if my little girl never gets healed, then what’s the worst thing that’s happened? I’ve had hundreds and thousands of conversations with God. Hundreds and thousands. I have sought Him more about this than anything else in my life. I’ve shared my heard, my emotions, my pain, my grief, He shared back with me His character and His goodness, He’s comforted me.

That’s the worst thing that’s going to happen, I’m going to have hundreds and thousands of conversations with a good God? And the circumstances may never change but I have already changed and I will continue to change in those conversations. You see, God is closest to you when you need Him the most. Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” If you’re here and you have unanswered prayer, you’re brokenhearted. You’re brokenhearted. And God says He’s there, He’s with you. He hasn’t left you and it’s in those moments where you begin to discover that He is real and He is good and He is love and He will use it for you, who are good.

Blessed is the man who does not walk away because God doesn’t do for him what he thinks God should do for him. See, if you’re really going to follow Jesus, you have to be okay with the mystery. in fact, mystery and faith go hand in hand. If there was no mystery, you wouldn’t need faith. Think about it like that. There was no mystery, you wouldn’t need faith. Faith is only needed in an environment of mystery. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.” If you cannot see it, you cannot hear it, you cannot cognitively understand it, then it’s a mystery. And could the reason Jesus constantly tells us to have faith is because he’s also communicating to us in that, that in the kingdom there’s a lot of mystery, so you’re going to need a lot of faith. But in our western world, we’re not okay with that, we want logic, cognitive, A + B = C, we want formulas.

We want pastors to get up here and you want me to give you three points on understanding the unanswered prayer dilemma of our life, but there isn’t that. And you don’t want a pastor what will give you that because that will ultimately let you down when you do the A and the B and the C and it doesn’t work out the way that you hoped it would, then you get disappointed and you get discouraged. You see, there is mystery in the kingdom, Jesus himself says it. Matthew 13, he says the kingdom of heaven is a mystery. He says it’s like a treasure buried in a field. When a treasure is buried in a field, it’s a mystery. You got to search for it, you got to seek it out.

In fact, what if I told you right now that there’s a $1 billion treasure in the cow field right here next to Valley Creek Church and if you find it, you can have it? What would happen? If you think we got traffic problems now, you would be all running out of this place, there’d be a run at Home Depot on shovels and everybody would be digging until you find it. Why? Because you have to search for it.

I think God allows mystery in the kingdom of God because He knows it’ll make us search for Him. He knows the mystery will draw us in, the mystery will make us pursue Him. When you don’t understand, you seek after Him more than you ever have about anything else. You see, if every prayer you prayed was an instantaneous yes and you could cognitively understand God, then He’d be a genie in a bottle and you would be the god. So big difference there. There’s a mystery. It’s kind of like a good spy movie or suspense, you know what I’m talking about?

Somebody gave Colleen and I like a miniseries recently and – a spy thing and we put the first DVD in and we watched the first hour and ended and we looked at each other and were like, “You want to find out?” “Yeah, me too.” We put in the second one, you watch it and you’re like, “I got to see what happens. You want another one?” “Yeah, me too.” And all of a sudden you realize it’s like 2:00 in the morning, you’re like, “One more?” “One more. I got to figure out what’s happening.” He draws you in. Listen, God doesn’t hide things from us, He hides things for us.

Not trying to keep things hidden from you, He’s trying to draw you in and he knows the mystery will make you pursue after Him and the more mature your faith is, the more you’re okay with mystery, the less mature your faith is, the more you want a cognitive, practical, logical understanding about everything. Maturity embraces the mystery. It says, “I don’t understand it but He does and I’m okay with that.” And mystery will make you either hungry and pursue Him or offended and walk away. The key is to not be offended and walk away.

In fact, you remember in Mark 6, Jesus goes back to his hometown. Word has gotten out about all the great things he has done and he comes back and he starts teaching, they’re amazed by his teaching it says and all the sudden, they have this realization, they’re like, “Wait a second, this is Joseph’s boy. This is the carpenter’s son, we know his sisters, we grew up with this guy. Who does he think he is?” And they get offended at the mystery that a kid they grew up with could actually be the Christ. And the very next verse says, “And Jesus could not do many miracles among them,” and he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Not he would not do, he could not do any miracles among them. Why? Because God can’t operate in an environment of offense, He operates in the realm of faith. And when we’re offended over the mystery, it literally shuts down the movement, the miracles, the answered prayers that God wants to bring into our life. So a real big hard question I need to ask you is, are you offended at God over an unanswered prayer in your life? Maybe a better word is, are you hurt and disappointed over an unanswered prayer?

Maybe it’s years ago like when you were a 10-year-old little boy and you begged God for something and it didn’t happen. Maybe it was last month. Are you offended at Him and you don’t even realize it? Maybe it’s not even a prayer you prayed, maybe it was a prayer someone else prayed and you watched their life and you thought they deserved it. If anybody deserved it, it was them and God didn’t show up the way you expected, so you picked up their pain, you picked up their offense and you’ve been holding this offense, hurt, disappointment, disbelief towards God, can I encourage you, let today be the day you let that thing go?

Release Him, bless Him, say, “I choose to embrace the mystery, God, even though I don’t understand it.” You see, unanswered prayer, you’re in good company. Every might man and woman of God in the Bible has an unanswered prayer. Abraham and Moses haven unanswered prayer. David prayed that his baby wouldn’t die, his baby died. The man after God’s own heart, how do you explain that? Paul had an unanswered prayer, John the Baptist, all these guys, and you know what? It never left them offended, it left them hungry. And they pursued God even more. Because maturity embraces the mystery.

If Jesus knows what unanswered prayer feels like, then you can go to him as your high priest who is able to sympathize with you in your weakness, blessed, happy, joyful is the man who does not get offended, who does not walk away because God doesn’t do for them what he thinks he should do for them. Are you with me on that?

This is hard, this is heavy, let me take you to one more thing. So just as a way of honoring people that are getting healing right now, just stay still for one more moment, let me read you Luke 18 about what we do in the middle of the mystery. This Is quick, I’m going to pull it all together for you, Luke 18, here’s what you do in the mystery, here’s what he says, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

He says there’s going to be a mystery, unanswered prayer in your life, here’s what you do, here’s how you respond, here’s how you engage in that moment. He said, “In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time, he refused but finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming.’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says and will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night, will He keep putting them off?”

“’I tell you he will see that they get justice and quickly. However, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’” Jesus says there’s going to be mystery and you’re going to have some unanswered prayer and then he tells us what to do. He says, “You’re going to feel like a widow.” A widow feels alone and isolated and you’re going to feel like God doesn’t care and He’s distant and He’s somewhere way far out there, He says, “That’s not true though.” He says when you’re in the mystery, pray. He says don’t stop, pray. He says have a conversation after conversation, hundreds and thousands of conversations with God about that thing, about your heart.

In fact, some of you are here, you’ve never expressed your grief to the Lord. You’ve never expressed your emotion, your heartbreak, the pain, the disappointment, the hurt. God’s not afraid of that stuff. Be like John the Baptist, are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else? Because if you’re the Christ, I don’t understand why you haven’t showed up in my life in this area. God’s okay with that. Psalm 62:80 says, “Pour out your hearts to the Lord.” Some of us, we just need to pour out our hearts to the Lord because in every mystery of prayer there is, you draw closer to the Lord when you just keep talking to Him and you don’t quit until you’re released.

You don’t stop praying for that thing until you’re released. Good example, Moses, okay? Moses kept asking God, “Let me go into the Promise Land. God, let me go into the Promised Land. God, let me go into the –“ and God stops him, He says, “Moses, enough. I don’t want to talk about that anymore. You can go to the Promise Land, okay?” He’s released, he doesn’t need to pray about that anymore. You’ll know when you’re released. Until then, you don’t stop. But what we do is we pull back out of self-protectionism. We say I got hurt before, I got some doubt, I got some disappointment, I am not going down that road again and pull back here. Listen, just because it hasn’t been answered, doesn’t mean it won’t be answered. What if tomorrow is the day? And then He says when the son of man returns, will He find faith on this earth? In other words, when He shows up in your life in the middle of the mystery, will He find that you believe He is and He is good?

Faith believes that God is good in the middle of the mystery. If He showed up in your life right now, would He find faith even though you’ve got some mystery and some unanswered prayer? You see, to pull this all together, let’s see if you can catch this because this is what kind of clicks it, we have to understand that the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God, the supernatural realm that’s available, the kingdom is now and then, it’s already but it’s not yet, it has come but it’s coming.

The kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God that’s going to take care of everything, no more pain and sickness and darkness and sorrow and evil and tears and hurt and all of that stuff, the kingdom of God, it’s now and it’s then, it’s already but it’s not yet, Jesus says it’s here and it’s now.

And so that means we live like the kingdom is available to us at all times, we reach up into heaven and we grab the things of heaven and we bring it to this earth by faith and believe God’s going to move and He wants to move and He can move and we believe that the kingdom is here and now and we pray and we live like that and yet at the same time, we understand that the kingdom is also then, that it’s also not yet, that it’s also coming.

And it will be fully here when Jesus comes back a second time. And in the midst of that, we live in the land in between called the realm of mystery, because it’s really hard to understand why the kingdom comes in some situations but not in other situations. That’s the mystery. Like 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says, “For now, we know in part but then we will fully know even as we are fully known.” He says, “All you know now is the mystery. You only know in part. Then you’ll fully know.” We don’t understand why when we pray for somebody, they don’t get healed even though Jesus says you can pray and believe for healing and it’ll come now. Kingdom is now but it’s also then, so maybe they didn’t get healed the way we want them to but when Jesus returns, they’re going to have a new body, a spiritual body that will never get sick and never have pain again.

The kingdom is still coming and we pray like it’s now, we understand that it’s also then. In fact, the best example I can give you and then I promise you I’m done, $this is big though for a lot of our heats, is I think we need to live like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel chapter 3. Remember the three guys, they’re bound up, about to be tossed in the fire for worshipping God? Here’s what they say, it’s quick. “We know our God will save us. But even if He doesn’t, King Nebuchadnezzar, we will not serve you, we will serve Him.” Listen, they get it, they understand the kingdom is now. We know our God will save us now, we believe, we have faith, it’s coming down, He’s showing up, He’s going to rescue us, He’s going to come into this place and blow it apart and He’s going to come and He’s going to save us, we know not – we think, not maybe, not if we get the formula right, not if we confessed our sins. Shadrach, you good? Okay. Okay, we get it, we get it alright. No, no, we know. And notice that they don’t say, “If it be God’s will.”

Can I challenge you for the next six months of your life, don’t tag your prayers with “if it be God’s will”? It’s all well-meaning and stuff, but I think in our heart, that’s one of the most faithless prayers we pray because I think we’re trying to give God a way out, our self a way out. We don’t want to let Him be embarrassed, we don’t want to be embarrassed, we pray for somebody to get healed and we’re like, “Lord, heal this person if it’s your will.” Literally almost as those words come out of your mouth, you’re basically saying, “I don’t think God’s going to heal you, but I need to give Him a way out so He’s not embarrassed.” God doesn’t need a way out, God doesn’t need you to be worried about Him being embarrassed. God needs you to pray like the kingdom is now. We know our God will save us but even if He doesn’t, we’re not going to serve you, we’re going to serve Him. We’re not going to get offended and walk away, we’re okay with the not yet, we’re okay with the then, we’re okay with the mystery.

You see, I think John got that news from his disciples and sat down in the back of his jail cell, put his head against the corner and he thought about the mystery that Jesus had just shared back with him and I can’t explain this to you out of scripture, I can’t prove it to you, this is just what I think happened. I think the Holy Spirit came and he brought up in John’s mind the time when John looked at Jesus and said he must become greater and I must become less. And I think John sat there and he thought about those things for a moment and he realized he had one more opportunity for Jesus to become greater, that if he would embrace this mystery and be okay with it and not walk away offended, Jesus would just have become greater in his life and he would’ve become less. When you embrace the mystery of unanswered prayer, Jesus becomes greater and you become less. And my hope for all of us, me too, is that the mystery doesn’t make us offended, it makes us hungry.

Because blessed, joyful, happy is the man who does not walk away because God doesn’t do for him what he thinks God should do for him. So you close your eyes with me and we just stay still for a moment before we start shuffling around, what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you? In this time, in this moment, just the spirit of the living God, just bring it up inside you. See, I think God’s doing a deep healing this weekend. I think the main reason we don’t pray is because of an unanswered prayer somewhere way back in our lives that has left us hurt, disappointed or offended, so we just don’t do it anymore.

And I’m convinced that a lot of us hold on to that offense which stops the miracle moving, prayer answering power of God because He doesn’t operate in the realm of offense, He operates in the realm of faith. And so maybe there’s a particular thing, maybe it’s years ago, I just feel like a lot of you just – children wounds. As a child, you prayed for something and it didn’t happen and you’re still hurting and disappointed and got over it today. Listen, I think He wants to tell you that He’s here, that He loves you, that He’s close to you in your broken heart, that He’s the God of comfort and compassion, that He knows Jesus knows what an unanswered prayer feels like, you’re not alone. The Father knows what pain is like, He gave up His own son for you. We don’t have a God who doesn’t know how to relate to us, who doesn’t care, who’s somewhere way far off, we have a God who is here in this room, in this place and he’s saying, “I love you, and it’s okay.”

There is mystery in the kingdom of God and we have to be okay with not knowing all the answers, not understanding it all, but knowing that He knows the answers and He understands it all and one day, we will fully know. And until then, we live like the kingdom is now and we pray and we believe. That’s who we are at Valley Creek Church, we’re a church that believes He’s here and He’s now, that He will heal, that He will restore, that He will reconcile your marriage, that He will show up when you need him the most, He will. But even if He doesn’t, do it the way we want Him to do it.

We’re not going to walk away because there’s nowhere else to go. He’s the good one, He’s the loving one and it’s His kingdom that’s coming. It’s here and it’s coming. I think the Lord wants to lift the burden off of some of your shoulders, He wants to heal a scar in your heart. Would you let the Holy Spirit do that?

So Holy Spirit, I just pray that you administer in this room right now, that you would work the pain out inside of each one of us in different ways, the disappointments, the doubts, the discouragement, the offenses that we’ve had towards you, Holy Spirit bring those up and allow us to release them to you, that we may be free to trust you as the good and faithful God that you are. Lord, I believe you’re doing something great right now in this place. Would you finish the work that you began inside of all of us?

Lord Jesus, thank you that you’re teaching us how to pray, we love you and we honor you in this place. Maybe you’re here and you want somebody to pray with you, you got people to pray for you, maybe you just need to come up and verbalize to someone, ‘I’ve been offended at God and I need to say it by faith to release it and be free, I want to leave it in this room.’ If you’re new to Valley Creek, we’d love to invite you to guest central, some of our leaders would love to meet you, it’s right out here. For those of you who that give your tithes and your offerings, there’s boxes available at the door, we believe giving is a response to the goodness of God in our lives but may you go this week being okay with the mystery of God. Blessings.

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