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                                "PRAYER"

                         How God Answers Prayer

INTRODUCTION

1. In our study on prayer, we have examined...
   a. The purpose of prayer      d. The principles of prayer
   b. The power of prayer        e. The persistence of prayer
   c. The privilege of prayer    f. The practice of prayer

2. Why don't people pray more often...?
   a. Perhaps they don't believe their prayers are being answered
   b. Not knowing how God answers, they may have lost faith in prayer

[Lest we begin to think that God does not hear us when we pray, we
should remember that there are at least four ways that God answers
prayer, beginning with...]

I. REQUEST GRANTED

   A. GOD MAY ANSWER "YES"...
      1. God often grants the petitions we ask of Him - Ps 118:5; 138:3
      2. Especially when we put Him first in our lives - Mt 6:33; cf.
         Pr 3:5-10

   B. FOR GOD TO ANSWER "YES"...
      1. We must ask according to His will - 1Jn 5:14
      2. We must be doing His will in our lives - 1Jn 3:22

[Naturally we rejoice when God grants our request.  But sometimes we may
receive the answer...]

II. REQUEST GRANTED, BUT NOT YET

   A. GOD MAY ANSWER "YES, BUT WAIT..."
      1. God may grant our request, but in time and according to His
         purpose - cf. Ec 3:1,11
      2. So we may think God is saying "No", when He is really saying
         "Yes, but wait" - Lk 18:7

   B. WHEN THE ANSWER SEEMS TO BE "WAIT"...
      1. We need to have patience - He 6:10-12
      2. We need to keep asking, seeking, knocking - Lk 11:8-10
      3. We need to remember God's promise - Ro 8:24

[When God seems to be saying "yes, but wait", it is a time for patience
and trust in His providence. We need similar trust should it become
apparent that God's answer is...]

III. REQUEST GRANTED, BUT NOT AS EXPECTED

   A. GOD MAY ANSWER "YES, BUT NOT AS YOU THINK..."
      1. Sometimes God answers in a way differently than we may
         anticipate
      2. Remember, His thoughts and methods are much different than ours
         - Isa 55:8,9
      3. For example, asking God for strength and perseverance...
         a. He may give us trials to bear - e.g., Php 1:29-30
         b. Which in turn develops the virtues we prayed for! - cf. Ro
            5:3-4

   B. WE MUST NOT LIMIT GOD'S OPTIONS...
      1. We should be careful and not dictate to God how to answer our
         prayers
         a. There are forces at work beyond what we can imagine - cf. Ep
            3:20
         b. Plus, we do not always know what to pray for as we ought
            - cf. Ro 8:26
      2. Limit the how and we might limit the result; e.g., when praying
         for the sick...
         a. Do we pray simply that God bless the use of natural means
            (doctors, medicine, etc.)?
         b. If so, might we limit God as to how He might restore them?
            (in ways beyond what we are able to imagine)?
         c. Is it not better to simply ask God to restore the sick, and
            leave the methods to Him?

[As we pray, our trust in God should allow Him latitude to answer
however He deems best. We especially need trust in God should it become
apparent that the answer to prayer is...]

IV. REQUEST DENIED

   A. GOD MAY ANSWER "NO"...
      1. There may be times when God denies our requests - cf. Jm 4:3
      2. We must trust that God, who knows what is best, would do so
         only if granting our request might not be for our good - cf. He
         12:5-11

   B. WHEN GOD SEEMS TO SAY "NO"...
      1. We may not fully understand, but we can still fully trust Him!
         - cf. Hab 3:17-19
      2. Especially in light of the promise in 1Co 10:13
      3. God will provide the grace and mercy to do without - e.g., 2 Co
         12:7-9

CONCLUSION

1. In at least four ways, then, God answers our prayers...
   a. Request granted
   b. Request granted, but not yet
   c. Request granted, but not as expected
   d. Request denied

2. However God may choose to answer our prayers...
   a. We can have confidence that it will be for our good
   b. We should never grow weary in praying to God

"The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer."
                                               - Ps 6:9
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