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Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective. Do We Understand His Ways? “Of all the activities in which the Christian engages and which are part of Christian.

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Presentation on theme: "Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective. Do We Understand His Ways? “Of all the activities in which the Christian engages and which are part of Christian."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective

2 Do We Understand His Ways? “Of all the activities in which the Christian engages and which are part of Christian life, there is surely none which causes so much perplexity and raises so many problems as the activity we call prayer.” Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

3 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective God’s will for His people And Unanswered prayer relating to oGod’s World oGod’s Will oGod’s War

4 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective God’s will for His people And Unanswered prayer relating to oGod’s World oGod’s Will oGod’s War

5 What do we Believe? Our response to things going belly up! Just the will of God? What does Jesus want us to do/pray? What does Scripture tell us about how God operates in His world?

6 God’s Will: Pre-ordained Will God determined before creation Nothing in creation can change oBirth of Jesus oDeath of Jesus oPouring out of HS oLord Jesus return oWorld is judged Eagle nebula

7 God’s Will: Preferred Will God would like to happen in an ideal world But oFree will oCause-effect oNatural laws oDNA Milky Way

8 God’s Will: Preferred Will Two wills collide! “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate”. (Mat 24:37-38) Earth with full Moon

9 God’s Will: Permissive Will In this evil world with our free-will, cause-effect, natural laws, DNA, sin God permits every thing that happens (he allows) God does not arrange. It is not in his character Earth with new Moon

10 God’s Will: Permissive Will God permits all of these! Our own sin Theft Sexual abuse of kids Extortion, drugs distribution Murder, rape, torture Genocide We know this because we know our own sin – and see/hear about the others with our own eyes/ears! We may even have experienced others sin upon us. Earth with a Crescent Moon

11 God’s Will: Permissive Will And God permits all of these too! The untimely illness/death of our loved ones Road accidents Earthquake/Tsunami Pandemic illness We know this because we experience it and/or see/hear about it with our own eyes/ears! Spiral galaxy

12 God’s Will: Permissive Will Jesus permitted both Judas and Peter to be tempted and to fail the test of faith ‘Then Satan entered Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve’ (Lk 22:3) ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail’ (Lk 22:31) Both Judas and Peter failed Judas hanged himself while Peter repented and became the Rock of the Church Black Hole

13 God’s Will: Permissive Will Peter, like Judas, or Job, or everyone has freedom to pass or fail the test of faith Jesus prayer for Peter and Judas expresses God’s unfathomable respect for human free will – His permissive will New Star

14 God’s Will: Permissive Will But our Lord sometimes changes the course of history He wept over the death of Lazarus Then He raised him from the dead He still performs miracles today! Orion nebula

15 God’s Will: Pro-active Will In the midst of Grief, trials, tribulation Affliction, opposition, heartache He works for us in rotten circumstances to make us more like Christ – His purpose Rosette nebula

16 God’s Will: Pro-active Will ‘We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose’ (Rom 8:28) For this (problem), we have Jesus! So There will be a way through it We will come out at the other end with him The other end may be in heaven Ring nebula

17 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective God’s will for His people And Unanswered prayer relating to oGod’s World oGod’s Will oGod’s War

18 Unanswered Prayer Relating to God’s World Jesus cried out to His Father ‘My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me’? This Makes it OK for us to ask ‘Why’ Shows us that the explanation may not come when we need it most

19 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #1 Common Sense?: Meaningless? Praying for a petrol station To pass exam without work To obtain employment without skills To win the lottery To sing like Catherine Jenkins if you are tone deaf

20 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #2 Contradictory?: Men at different ends of a sports field Bride for the sun, farmer for the rain Deliverance from Israeli oppression and protection from suicide bombers Economic recovery for the West and fair distribution of world’s wealth Two drivers circling a crowded car park One man running for a delayed train and the other on it and late

21 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #3 The Laws of Nature?: Natural order? Governing principles –infinite complexity and exquisite harmony. Cause and effect We fall off a wall, plane malfunctions Storms and prayer against Serious genetic diseases Some cancers

22 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #3 The Laws of Nature?: That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behaviour of matter and produce what we call miracles is part of Christian Faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore stable, world demands that these occasions should be extremely rare. (The Problem of Pain) C.S. Lewis

23 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #4 Life is tough?: The chaos of the Fall? When we are young, we often believe we have a divine right to health/happiness With experience, we know differently Who messed up? Free-will, cause-effect, DNA etc ‘Each day has trouble of its own’ (Mat 6:34) ‘Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering’ (1Pet 4:12)

24 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #4 Life is tough?: The chaos of the Fall? Can set hopes for prayer high And expect them Paul was not like that. He wanted ‘to know Christ and the power of His resurrection’ but also ‘the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings’ (Phil 3:10)

25 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s World? #5 Unbiblical expectations?: God makes all problems disappear? Understanding/expectation of God are wrong! ‘We share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory’ (Rom 8:17) Job, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – Faith for the miracle - Deeper faith to endure suffering should miracle not happen Our Lord weeps with us in our trouble. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Heb 13:5) Simeon Solomon 1863

26 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective God’s will for His people And Unanswered prayer relating to oGod’s World oGod’s Will oGod’s War

27 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #6 God’s best?: 6 billion people in the world Serious multitasking Our destiny in our own hands – temporal imagination? ‘I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jer 29:11) No explanation why delays, illness and God’s refusals We have to believe by faith that He has something even better for us Jeremiah Sistine Chapel ceiling Michelangelo

28 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #6 God’s best?: Prayer of Thomas à Kempis ‘O Lord, you know what is best for me. Give me what you will, how much you will and when you will’ Thomas à Kempis

29 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #7 Selfish motivation?: We all pray selfishly sometimes Pass exams, new car, better house, more power, ambition, appearance, popularity ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…’ (Jas 4:3) Jesus did not promise to answer our prayers unconditionally ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 Jn 5:14-15)

30 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #7 Selfish motivation?: Prayers, even if spiritually sounding, may not be answered because they are selfishly motivated We learn with experience, that when we know our Lord, what he likes and dreams – then we know what his will is. Jesus said ‘My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name’ (Jn 16:23) Temptation of Christ Ary Scheffer

31 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #8 Relationship?: Why does our Lord often delay our most fervent wishes? Why the silences of unanswered prayer? Frustrating ++ No doubt that hard times bring us closer to God in prayer ‘Afflictions quicken us to prayer’ – John Newton We can grow to prefer what He wants for us and deepen our relationship! ‘If you abide in me and my Words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you’ (Jn 15:7)

32 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #9 Free Will?: God will not force a person to do something that he/she does not want to do Jesus wept over Jerusalem He gave us the divine capacity for creativity, generosity, restraint, relationship Voluntary submission versus disobedience Power of human choice that can release purposes of prayer can also resist God’s will Jeremiah

33 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #10 Power of Influence: God’s power is about influence, not control He works relationally through and with us Jesus re-defines power as gentleness, sacrifice and even suffering Power is nothing without control: Pirelli Tyres

34 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s Will? #10 Power of Influence?: Prison (classic control mechanism) solves little while education/counselling (models of influence) more effective against the roots of criminality Parent has to use physical force – their authority is weak not strong Prayer power has relational influence in peoples lives rather than control Importance to us of perseverance in prayer for a person/community allowing Holy Spirit to guide Power is nothing without control: Pirelli Tyres

35 Unanswered Prayer - God’s Perspective God’s will for His people And Unanswered prayer relating to oGod’s World oGod’s Will oGod’s War

36 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s War? #11 Power of Satan?: We all experience battles with temptation, sickness, injustice and every mutation of selfishness God’s will and God’s world will harmonise when Jesus returns Meanwhile, we experience a battle, sometimes winning and other times losing The permissive will of God Temptation of Christ Ary Scheffer

37 Why Unanswered Prayer in God’s War? #12 Need perseverance?: Jesus taught about perseverance in prayer i.e the persistent widow (Lk 18:1) Paul said ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope (Rom 5:3-4) Difficult in a world of instant everything We may need to learn to wait patiently and accept the priorities of Jesus for our lives

38 Observation Sometimes in life, it seems that every trace of God has vanished – confusion ++ There is nothing more powerful than faithfulness expressed in perseverance ‘Satan’s cause is never in more danger than when a human – no longer desiring but still intending to do (God’s) will – looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys’ Screwtape Letters C S Lewis

39 Conclusion Life can be tough since we live in a fallen world. Faith does not take darkness away Our prayers may not be answered the way we ask or would like Jesus loves his people and died to remove the ‘falleness’ and fear from us The Lord and His people support and comfort us even as we weep, and look forward to rejoicing with us when we can celebrate again

40 References Rob Whitacker - ‘From average to awesome’ at the Men’s Weekend, Capernwray, September 2009 Pete Greig in ‘God on Mute – engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer’ 2007


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