Intro: Garth Brooks ‘Unanswered prayer’.
Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them, the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be
She was the one that I'd wanted for all time
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again
Sometimes I thank God
For unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin'
To the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
'Cause some of God's greatest gifts
Are unanswered prayers
She wasn't quite the angel
That I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all
And as she walked away
Well I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the Good Lord
For the gifts in my life
Sometimes I thank God
For unanswered prayers…
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
A familiar scene, but we cannot know the difficulty he faced at the moment.
After he surrendered his will, he was strengthened, not before - after.
1. Supernatural strength follows obedience
The angel came AFTER his surrender.
Faith comes BEFORE release of finance, favor with people, etc.
The answer to Jesus was eventually, NO.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
The answer to Paul was NO, but power from God came too.
Application: Think about something God has said NO to or WAIT and ask, “Would I have the thing if it meant loosing the power of God?”
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
1) “Lead us not into temptation.”
2) Not my will but yours be done.
Seems like prayers of defense, but are they?
Example: The quarterback will do the work if the defense does theirs.
Example: Mark Parker’s exhortation before the day of confession and freedom. Pray the enemy away from people and they will automatically go to Jesus.
2. Defensive prayer is recommended by Jesus
The Lord’s prayer
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
2 types of prayer:
Type A (defensive) is the prayer taught by our Lord: “Thy will be done.” In the light of the great submission of his passion, nothing can be asked for conditionally, only submissively so. It is asked in the Garden of Gethsemane, without any reservation whatever: “nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”
Type B (offensive) is the petition in faith…
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain,
‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.
Lewis asked many wise people about this apparent inconsistency and received no clear answer or solution. Hesitantly, Lewis suggested himself that until God has given us the faith to move mountains, it is perhaps to leave them alone, for he created them, and that is his business.
Instead, it is advisable to concentrate more attention on Type A prayers, that indicate the surrender of self-will and self-love is more important than getting our own way, for we can easily misinterpret our perception of things in foolish, willful ways.
3. Submission precedes movement of mountains
Example: What if Jesus got what he asked for? What would have become of us?
The desire to move mountains without a submissive heart might be the only thing in the way of moving mountains.
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
In Matthew’s version, more is recorded.
Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
They were acting out what Jesus had asked for in prayer.
Jesus, instead, was walking in submission.
They slept instead of praying and fell prey to self-will and taking matters into their own hands.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
“Every dog has its day.”
“…But this is your hour…”
Don’t fear the dark before the dawn
4. Darkness is temporary.
sometimes we have the power to end the struggle…
Peter cut off the servant’s ear.
Example: The recovering alcoholic can go out and buy a drink anytime.
Sometimes we have no choice: Don’t have the money to buy a house.
Can’t conceive a baby. Can’t change the heart of a stubborn loved one.
The wilderness, the testing, the fasting, the desert.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Application: Defend the person in prayer.
5. Life in Jesus Christ is eternal.
Closer: The struggle is worth the wait.
Even when we can’t change something, the prayer of defense is always appropriate.
Running defense Hail Mary