SERIES: Why? (Why Didn’t God Answer My Prayer?)
Week of: February 10 – 16, 2021
Aim: Why? Why? WHY?? didn’t He answer my prayer? Does He care? Does He know? After studying this lesson students will have a better insight as to why a prayer may not be answered but it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know, nor doesn’t care!
Psalm 22:2 (NASB)
My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.
John 15:7 (NCV)
If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you.
In life we all face some setbacks in one way or another. We experience some pain, loneliness, disappointments, rejection or sickness. But through it all there is a sweet relief in knowing that the hand of the LORD is there to lean on. But. . . what about when you call on Him and he seemingly doesn’t care because He is silent and won’t answer you?
Matthew 15:21-23a (NKJV) – 21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word.
- The Canaanite mother prayed and she was confronted with. . .
- A disinterested Jesus
- A disconnected Jesus
- A denying Jesus
Point to Ponder: How do you respond when it seems that the Lord has gone silent in answering your prayer? It seems like the more you prayed the worst it got!
- Many people struggle with their faith because of God’s silence and apparent impotence when they cry out to Him in their time of greatest need and He doesn’t even bother to answer them!
- They become baffled, puzzled and disappointed about God and His will!
ü Baffled – because we can’t explain why God didn’t respond to our prayers!
ü Puzzled – because we can’t understand why God isn’t responding!
ü Disappointment is usually the results of unmet expectations!
4) In the case of prayer our expectations are shaped in part by several scriptures, such as. . . Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT) – 21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
5) Promises like this from the lips of Jesus causes us to become confused when we don’t get an answer to our prayers.
6) Among the reasons some Christians say we do not get an answer are. . .
ü You are not seeking to please the Lord
ü You have unconfessed sin in your life
ü You pray with improper motives
ü You lack faith
Point to Ponder: Notice the lack of an answer to your prayers are based squarely on you! Question: But. . .is this list correct?
7) Living to please the Lord and seeking to please Him are important but to explain that God does not answer our prayers because we are not holy enough seems odd for a faith built upon GRACE! Romans 5:8 tells us that we have a Saviour who gave His life for us “while we still were sinners,” and teaches us that we are saved by grace and not by our works!
Back to the incident with the Canaanite mother – this woman was not living to please the Lord, nor was she living her life to please Him. In fact, she was. . .
ü A sinner and a shameful woman
É She was noisy
É She was nervy
ü She was a descendent of the Canaanites
ü She was no better than a dog according to the Jews
8) This woman was not holy, yet Jesus healed her daughter!
Matthew 15:28 (NKJV) – Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Remember: Jesus heals because He is holy, not because those He heal are holy.
So. . .what about faith? Faith is important in our praying. Jesus said this woman had great faith!
Ø Faith is the act of trusting God.
Ø Faith is believing that God hears and cares!
Ø Our trust in God touches His heart!
Question: But HOW MUCH faith do we need in order for our prayers to be answered?
Mark 9:21-27 (NLT)
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy.
22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
Ø By this own admission, the man’s faith was neither complete nor where he wanted it to be.
Ø Yet Jesus healed the son.
When Matthew records the incident and the disciples question Jesus as to why they could not heal the young man, Jesus replied. . . “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. (Matthew 17:20)
Perhaps the answer is not in how we pray or how much faith we have when we pray but our lack of understanding in what Jesus meant when He made statements like the above.
When Jesus spoke, He almost always did so using a figure of speech called hyperbole. Hyperbole is an overstatement or exaggeration to make a point.
Let’s consider several examples of Jesus’ use of hyperbole and why it is important to take Him seriously, but not always literally.
Matthew 5:29-30 (NLT) – 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Luke 18:25 (NLT) – In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
Matthew 21:22 (NIV) – If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
- Were these words of promise to be taken literally and mechanically, or are they a hyperbole statement?
- Or is Jesus inviting His followers to pray boldly and with faith?
- The kind of trust that God wants us to have cannot be learned in comfort and ease.
Paul did not learn it immediately or quickly.
2 Corinthians 12:7a-9a (NLT) – 7 . . . So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
- It required time.
- And patience.
- And suffering.
- And the pressure of desperation!
d) God would not heal him, but God would help him to deal with the struggle!
e) God will give us the strength to endure or a way to escape – but He will come through!
f) Paul came to see that every insult, disaster, and stressful situation was an opportunity for God to work in perfecting his soul and in accomplishing good through him: “when I’m weak, then I’m strong.”
Luke 22:42 (NLT) – “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Psalm 22:1 (NLT) – My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Matthew 27:46 (NLT) – At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
g) Today we know that. . .
Ø God did not forsake Him, but. . .
Ø God favored us!
h) What do these two New Testament accounts of unanswered prayer teach us? They teach us that. . .
(1) God does not always answer our prayers, even when we offer those prayers in faith at times of real and pressing need!
(2) They also teach us that while God may not answer our prayers as we pray them, God does not abandon us!
(3) Theses accounts tell us that God works through the situations from which we have NOT been delivered as we asked!
É Paul’s “thorn” was an opportunity for the power of God to be displayed in him and for his own faith to be deepened.
É Jesus’ crucifixion became the most powerful sign of God’s sacrificial love and human redemption in the history of the world! It became God’s vehicle for the salvation of the human race!
(4) It is hardship, challenges, suffering and tragedy that most often lead. . .
É to the development of character and compassion,
É that tear down walls of oppression and
É serve to redeem and transform the human race
Isaiah 55:8 (NIV) – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
1 Peter 5:7 (AMPC) – Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
When I don’t understand why my prayer was not answered, I will trust Him because. . .
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Thank God for his caring and loving nature no matter what we’ve done, may be doing or will do.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Let others know that no matter how hard things may appear to be, God cares for us.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Evidence of the depth of Jesus’ care for us was seen at Calvary; share with those not in the know and remind those that may have forgot.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Your giving should reflect how much you care.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Although your prayer was not answered in the way you desired, just know you got an answer because we have a loving, caring, saving God.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Trusting God When My Heart is Broken
SERIES: Why? (Why me?)
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: Isaiah 55:8; John 11:1-44; Matthew 8:20; Matthew 12:22-24; Mark 3:20-21; John 11:3-6; Matthew 15:25; Matthew 17:15; Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:47; Luke 17:12-13; James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Deuteronomy 8:2; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Isaiah 40:30-32; Psalm 27:13-14; Psalms 13:1; Psalms 69:3; Isaiah 43:1-2; Daniel 3:24-25