Things Jesus Never Said Part 4
“You’ll get what you want if you pray hard enough.”
I love to hear people quote the words of Jesus! However, sometimes they may quote it wrong or conveniently live their lives ignoring some important teaching Christ laid out for us. Today we present Part 43 of our Sermon Series “Things Jesus Never Said: “You’ll get what you want if you pray hard enough.”
John 14:12-14 -12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
John 15:7 - 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
Jesus said if you will ask, he will do it. However, we must look at the context of His statements.
Let’s break it down.
The key to asking for anything in Jesus’ name is really about alignment. Because of our humanness and our innate selfish desires, we often are out of alignment with God.
We tend to make our requests for our own benefit according to our definition of what that is. That thought process, then, is flawed from the beginning – Thereby making our requests out of alignment from the beginning of our dialogue with God. God will not answer any prayer with a “yes” that is contrary to His character, His nature or His will.
God always hears and answers every prayer. Just because the answer isn’t always yes, but instead “wait” or “no” doesn’t man your prayers are not heard of the God doesn’t care about your plans. If your requests are asked and a yes would be contrary to God’s will, He may say; “no, let’s wait until you can remain in Me and I am remaining in you. Then if I deem this is the best for you, My answer will be yes.”
Are you in alignment with God? Do you know what it means to ask for your requests in His name? Do you how to “remain in Him” and allow Him to “remain in you?”
Let’s talk about motives behind your requests.
James 4:1-3 – What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
Okay- let’s say your requests aren’t for “things” that would be “nice” – in fact you might be asking yourself, why would it be wrong to ask for healing or for financial help or for other urgent requests that make sense – for either yourself or someone else… and of course, expect God to say yes.
Think with me for a moment about this. If someone asked and expected you to do something and you didn’t do it, or did it half-heartedly, what would you expect them to do if you asked them to do something for you? Or what about if someone asked you for something and you always said no, what would you expect them to say if you asked them for something? Is that the situation you have with Jesus? He has asked you to allow Himself to take the punishment for your sins. You’ve said yes. He has rewarded your decision with eternal life. From the beginning, He has asked you for a close relationship. You’ve neglected Him though – you’ve not always loved God with all your heart – or loved your neighbor - or talked with Him on a regular basis - or obeyed His instructions for keeping your relationship in good standing, healthy and vital. And now you’re asking Him for significant answers to your prayers?
When you want something from another human being, who is easiest to ask? It will typically be someone you have a relationship with – and more than likely a good relationship with. For some, it might be a parent or grandparent, brother or sister, or another close relative. For others it might be a close friend. God wants a relationship with you that is close – a relationship that is tight, one that will last, one where you value Him all the time, in every-day life – not just when you need something.
For many people, they only get serious with prayer when they want or need something and often in times of trouble or urgency.
Question: Does God have to interrupt you in order for you to hear from Him? Is your communication with Him a dialogue or a monologue (you doing the talking)?
You may not be living an ungodly life or a particularly sinful life – in fact, you may be serving God and your fellow man, but if you don’t have a close relationship with God, how will you even know if you’re in alignment with Him? If your prayer life only activates on a serious level when you’re wanting something, you’re at a loss before you start your communication with God. Remember, God gives you what you want when you ask in His name, understanding His character and nature. In addition, we have what we ask for when He is in us – and we are in Him.
More than likely, things will not go according to your plans! It’s true – so, will you trust God’s timing and will? Will you trust his answers to your prayers? This is what is called living by faith. Then you can rest assured, everything will go according to His plans.
Jesus never said, “You’ll get what you want if you pray hard enough.” He however encourage us to pray hard.
Luke 18:1-8 - One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
This parable does not mean we should endlessly repeat our requests or even beg God like spoiled children. We simply present our requests to God, keeping them before Him while we wait for His answer. In fact, the blessing of prayer is in prayer itself. Communication and dialogue between our heavenly father and us is more fulfilling than anything else we can ask for. Jesus isn’t like a vending machine where we put in our money (requests) and out pops our selection.
Here are some great questions to ask as you consider that nature of your requests. Where is your foundation of faith built? Is it based on God providing all you want? Or is it based on a two-way dialogue where you talk and listen or simply don’t talk, but listen?
Philippians 4:6 (NIV) - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Matthew 26:36-40 - Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Wow, what an example we have in Jesus – God – said “no” to His only Son.
How do we know He will hear and answer? If we are truly His followers.
John 10:27-29 (NLT) - My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
The Great Shepherd will take care of and protect you, but you must follow Him. You go out wandering around and straying from His care. Watch out, not only will your prayers be hindered, you may find yourself in serious danger – and not even know you’ve wandered, worse yet, not care.
Max Lucado in his book “Glory Days” tells this story.
Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one. For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.
Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she’d escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant—everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.
The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on a January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.
Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced a few more except for the folly of one of the bullies. He filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.
A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.
Unbeknownst to him, the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.
Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.” Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number.
From that day forward Khoury has been only a call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.
Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?
You can have it. You have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, with the Savior of the World and the presence of the Holy Spirit who can be everywhere at once.
Crave that relationship,
Cultivate that relationship,
Cling to that relationship.
Create trust in that relationship.
Call on God – he will hear and he will answer yes, wait or no and you will rest in Him.