418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

September 18, 2017

Some of the hardest questions in the Christian life have to do with God not answering our prayers— no matter how much we pray or how much faith we can collectively muster.  Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?  Why didn’t God do what I prayed He would do?  Why doesn’t God love me?  Because if He did, He would not have let happen what happened?  Where was God during my time of deepest need?  I prayed to God for ________ and it did not happen.

Which inevitably leads us to ask this:  Why God?  Is the problem with me?  Am I not doing enough to get my prayers answered?  Or is the problem with You?  Are You showing favorites and am I on the bottom of Your list?  What's the problem?  Help me understand this, God, because this is hurtful and doesn't make any sense.

You're Right, It Doesn't Make Much Sense

And the reason for that is our reliance on Cliff Note theology.  We grab a few Scriptures, usually out of context, and hold on to them like a life preserver vainly trying to get them to say something they don't.  Consider these:

1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Did you notice something?  The key, according to this verse, is praying "according to His will."  When that happens, badda bing, badda boom, prayers get answered.  But when we ask for something not according to the will of God, all bets are off.  The answer will be, "Not today, not ever."

Matthew 18:19 - “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."

First, this statement by our Lord has nothing to do with prayer, but with dealing with a sinning believer.  And even if it did give us a prescription for prayer, can two people agree for world peace and the end of all wars, and it be a guarantee from the Lord?  I think not.  Why?  Because God has already revealed to us that in the future we "will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6).  God has already spoken prophetic truth to us and won't violate His Word because of our prayers.

Do you want to know the reason God often doesn't answer our prayers?  Because the reason will change the way you look at God and prayer from this point forward.  If you want to know more, then keep listening.

The following is a study on prayer.

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392 - The 240 Hour Prayer (and Fasting) Meeting

March 23, 2017

When the 120 met together after the ascension of Jesus, there were some logistics we often overlook when considering their 240 hour prayer meeting (Acts 1:14).  For example:

What about food?
Did they go home to eat several times a day?
Did someone have food catered in to them?
Did they go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s daily?
Did their family drop off lunch bags each day?
Or did they go on an extended fast?
And if so, what was that like?

I believe it was a time of prayer and fasting— and not just prayer alone.  After all, that's what Jesus expected them to do (Matt. 6:16-18).   Which raises one last question: What can fasting do for me today?  Or, why should I fast since fasting seems to be passe in the church today?  Consider the following:

Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.
Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
Fasting will encourage the Holy Spirit to quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.
Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life and make you a channel of revival to others.
In summary, fasting opens up your spirit in ways that are hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.

Have you ever considered adding fasting to your prayer life?  You should.  You really should.

The following is a study on Acts 1:12-14.

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386 - What Does “Praying in the Spirit” Mean?

February 13, 2017

Twice in Scripture we are commanded to “pray in the Spirit.”  We see this first in Ephesians 6:18 and again in Jude 1:20.  We are not told to pray “with” the Spirit or “to” the Spirit, but pray “in” the Spirit.

Have you ever wondered what that means?  Is it praying in tongues as Paul referenced in 1 Corinthians 14:15?  No.  That’s something entirely different.

Is it something that I do or is it something the Holy Spirit does through me?  Where does my responsibility end and His activity begin?  What is the essence of “praying in the Spirit”?  Am I praying for what I want or is the Spirit praying through me according to the will of the Father?  And if that’s the case, what’s the content of that prayer?  Am I an active participant in my prayer life?  Or do I just kick back and let the Spirit take over?  And again, if so, to what extent?

Ah, so many questions.  Do you want to know the answers?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Praying in the Spirit.

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385 - The Whole Tongue Controversy Explained

February 5, 2017

Ever since the resurgence of the charismatic movement in the last century, there has been incredible controversy in church on the issue of spiritual gifts, especially the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 10:8).  One faction believes it is a sign of a deeper relationship with the Lord that everyone should seek but only few find.  You hear this when statements like this are made:  “You must receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.”

Then there is the other side that throws all the uncomfortable gifts of the Spirit out the window for fear of being called strange, loopy or out of control.  And these camps are entrenched, like opposing armies set for war.

But what is the truth?  And how can we know from Scripture which side is right?

Simply put, the answer to this great controversy is found in the singular and plural use of the Greek word “glṓssa” – and nothing more.  When you get this definition under your belt, the entire controversy vanishes into thin air, like a man-made mirage.

Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

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344 - Steps to Freedom in Christ

April 24, 2016
In closing his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul said the following to one of his "fellow laborers" in the faith, a man named Archippus. 

Colossians 4:17 - And say to (who) Archippus, "Take heed (or, consider, discern, to see with the eye, to watch carefully) to the ministry (or, service) which you have received (how) in the Lord, (why) that you may fulfill (or, to render full, to complete, to bring to effect) it."

Archippus probably struggled, much like Timothy, with insecurity, timidity, and a lack of boldness. Paul reminded him that his ministry was from the Lord and his calling and purpose in life was to fulfill what God had created him to do.  And nothing more.

Do you ever struggle with the same thing?  Do you ever wonder why you have such a hard time getting beyond your past and present failures?  Do you sometimes feel God had a plan for your life but now, because of your disobedience, He has passed on by never wanting to use you again?  If it was possible to move beyond that crippling thought, would you be interested in finding out how?

If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 4:16-18.

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339 - Being Vigilant in Prayer

March 15, 2016
One of the most convicting statements about prayer is found in the last chapter of Colossians.  Here the Lord, in Colossians 4:2, says:

Continue (or, to persevere and not faint, to endure, to wait or tarry, to be in constant readiness) earnestly (or, to adhere to one, to be devoted to one, to be steadfastly attentive) in prayer, (how) being vigilant (or, to arise, arouse, to watch, to refrain from sleep, to remain fully awake) in it (in prayer) with thanksgiving (or, thankfulness, gratefulness, profound gratitude).

Which raises a few questions:

How is your prayer life?  Do you continue earnestly in prayer?  Are you devoted to prayer?  Vigilant in prayer?  Does your prayer life show you are "redeeming the time" given you by the Lord?  Or does it show just the opposite?  And, if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 4:2-6.

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337 - What is the Prayer of Faith?

February 21, 2016
Some of the most wonderful yet confusing verses in the entire New Testament are found in the last chapter of the book of James.  Do you know what these verses mean:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much - James 5:13-16

Are you suffering?  Do you know those who are sick?  Do you know what the prayer of faith is and what is involved in calling for the elders and having them anoint you with oil?  Are these verses somewhat confusing to you?

If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on James 5:13-16.

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335 - The Power of Persistent, Overcoming Prayer

January 25, 2016
During His last week with His disciples, Jesus said the following regarding a fig tree that He cursed:

“Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing (or, to have faith in, to think it’s true, to place confidence in, to entrust), you will receive" - Matthew 21:21-22.


Do you believe what Jesus said?  Do you take His words at face value or have you reduced them to some type of parable or story not to be believed literally?  And what does Jesus mean by "believing"?  How does faith impact our prayers?  

Keep listening, for the answer to these and other questions may astound you.

The following is a study on Persistent, Overcoming Prayer.

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334 - Put On, Put Off, and Put to Death

January 25, 2016
In Colossians 3 we see the commands to put off, put on, and put to death various aspects of our life.  Consider the following:

put to death your members” – 3:5
“you yourself are to put off all these” – 3:8
put off the old man with his deeds” – 3:9
put on the new man who is renewed” – 3:10
put on tender mercies” – 3:12
“above all these things put on love” – 3:14

You would do well to carefully examine what about you is to be put to death (or, to mortify, kill, make dead, to deprive of force and vigor, to render powerless, impotent) and what we are to put on (or, to sink into, to clothe oneself, to be enveloped) and to put off (or, renounce, throw off, lay aside or down, to cast away).

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 3:12-17.

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331 - The Stuff Life Throws at Us

December 7, 2015
Sometimes, life throws us a curveball.  Scripture tells us to expect "trials and tribulations" (James 1:2) and even "persecutions" (2 Tim. 3:12)— but what seems to knock us down the hardest are the things we don't see coming, just the bad stuff that happens to fallen people living in a fallen world.  

All people, both good and bad, sometimes get cancer, lose their jobs, or suffer from broken relationships.  No one is promised an easy road this side of heaven.  Which, if you think about it, should make heaven more appealing.  But often it doesn’t.  Instead, we get overwhelmed and depressed by daily life.

Did you ever wonder why?   And have you ever wondered why your prayer life gets overwhelmed by the problems of life when it should be the other way around?  If so, this message is for you.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Prayer and Luke 18:1-8.

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