17. How God Answers Our Prayers
Purpose: This second session on the subject of prayer is to help you understand God and what He does in hearing us and answering our prayers. The material is to bring encouragement and help you trust God explicitly when you call upon Him. It should help you understand what kind of God we serve and how He loves us to come before Him.
1. The disciple will understand that persistence when we really believe is the will of God, and He will respond.
2. The disciple will understand that God is a giver of good gifts.
3. The disciple will be encouraged to pray.
So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
1. Mutual sharing and prayer.
2. Discuss the parables.
3. Discuss the questions.
The word “parable” comes from two Greek words, para and ballo. Para means “alongside of” and “ballo” means “to throw.” A parable then is a story thrown alongside of a truth to be taught to help us better understand it. In these two closely related parables there are two basic truths taught that will greatly aid us in the time we spend before the Father. The first teaches us that when we know we are praying in the will of God, we honor Him by taking firm hold of our requests and persisting in His presence until the answer comes. The second parable teaches us that the Father knows well what we need and will not give us something that is contrary or less than what that need is. We need to look carefully at the teachings of these parables and heed their words of instruction. Knowing and understanding this is an encouragement for us all.
The Parable of The Persistent Neighbor
Read Luke 11:1-10
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples how to pray, Luke 11:2-4, in response to their query. The words in Luke are somewhat abbreviated from those found elsewhere. But sensing the need to tell them how to pray, He went on and told them these two parables: Luke 11:1-10 and Luke 11:11-13, that related profoundly to what He had just said. He concluded the first parable with the statement that includes three basic words.
1. Ask - letting the request be known. The answer may or may not come simply as we ask. God is, of course, One who desires us to depend on Him. So often we will...
2. Seek - suggests that we begin to implore Him.
3. Find - His response is coupled to our asking and seeking.
Two of these statements are our movements and the third is up to God. We are told to _________ and ____________ and the result will be that we _________.
There are many places in Scripture where we are urged to pray. Read some of them once again. First the words of Jesus:
What does this first parable teach us? What is the thing we are urged to do? Before you try to answer, read Matthew 15:21-28 slowly and then see if you can give the proper response. What did the Canaanite woman do in vs. 22?
How did the disciples respond to her need in vs. 23 ?
How does this show the difference between God and us as men?
Why did Jesus say what He said in vs. 24?
How would you characterize this Canaanite woman in vs. 25?
She said _________ ________ _______! What is going on in vs. 26 and 27 that can help us in our prayer life?
What two characteristics did she demonstrate? ________________ and ____________________.
This is an actual story involving a Syrophonician woman. It is a live demonstration of the teaching of Jesus in the parable we are considering. With this in mind, read the parable we are considering once again slowly.
The first story or parable is simply that a neighbor has someone coming to him from a journey at midnight and he has nothing to give him to eat. So he goes next door to his neighbor who is a friend and asks him for three loaves. His neighbor knows it is his friend, but is reluctant to get up and give him what he is asking.
Describe in your own words what follows (vs. 8).
This parable teaches us that God and the Lord Jesus are pleased when we persist because of our confidence in His promises. How can we translate this learning to our lives today? Here are a few suggestions.
Philippians 4:19 - Is what I am asking something I really ___________? There is often quite a difference between a need and a want. We have a problem sometime in our asking because we ask _____ _________ _______ so we can spend it on ____________ ___________________, James 4:3. It is sometimes difficult to determine if we are truly praying in the will of God. All of us have asked for things that have not been God’s will for us, and He has graciously withheld what we are asking for. Let’s always look carefully at our requests.
But what if we feel we truly need, and are trusting God for what we are asking? See if you can think through a scenario of your own that might place you in the shoes of the neighbor who got up at midnight and went next door. Write this in some detail.
Insight on prayer from the author’s perspective:
Over many years I have developed a pattern of coming to God for what I need. First, I must validate the fact that it is a “need” by going to the Scriptures.
When I believe I have a valid need, I realize that this need is uniquely and individually mine, and therefore I would tell very few people, if any, and seek only the Lord’s provision.
Finally, I would go to the Scriptures where the promises abound as in Psalm 37:3-7, and list the principles in this passage.
1. _______ in the Lord and cultivate _______________.
2. __________ yourself in the Lord, (vs. 4) and claim the promise.
3. ____________ your way ___ _____ _______, _________ Him and He ________ _____ _____.
1. The teaching of this first parable then would mean what in my prayer life with respect to how I am asking?
2. Would it ever be right to remind God about Who He is and what He has promised?
How might one do this?
3. What action is taught in this first parable about you and me as those who ask?
4. How is faith demonstrated in a situation like the one described in the first parable?
5. Does God really need to be begged for answers to prayer? Who is this really for? God or us?
The Second Parable
Read Luke 11:11-13
This is a prayer parable also. The previous parable taught that God is delighted when we persist in prayer which demonstrates that we acknowledge Him, have faith in Him, and come to Him with our genuine need.
With this in mind, what does the second parable teach us? Eph. 3:20
Our Father knows how to give ____________ gifts. Since He is ___________ ____________, which is one of His attributes, He knows before we pray. An all-knowing God surely knows what we need and will_____________________________________ Eph. 3:20. God delights to hear us call upon Him and trust Him for everything. If we ask for a ____________, He will not give us a snake (Luke 11:11). Can you recall incidents when this has been true for you? List them.
Questions for Review and Discussion
1. Why do we not act like believing Christians when it comes to our prayer life?
2. What feelings should go into being “steadfast in prayer”?
3. What is the difference between faith that God will answer, and distrusting Him in giving us an answer?
4. If we decide to persist in prayer, what steps should we take when we do this?
5. What in your own life have you wanted to persist in prayer over, and why have you gone the way you have gone?
6. What does the second prayer parable teach us?
Summary and Key Concepts
These two parables deal with prayer. God desires that we come to Him and ask and trust Him for our needs. It does not mean that we would be not helped if we do not pray. He surely watches over us and often sees our need more clearly. But He desires that we have a part in what He wants to do for us as far as our daily needs are concerned. Because of this, He has taught us to be steadfast if we are sure what we ask for is not contrary to His Word. He is delighted when we “pound His door,” and we can do this from time to time. We can also be certain that His gifts are good gifts.
In this session, we have attempted to teach two things about God and our praying to Him. The first thing is that He is delighted to have us approach Him. We need to be certain that our requests are in line with His will, however. And He is God that appreciates our persistence and is delighted when we put Him to an actual test to prove the answer is from Him.
Group Conversational Prayer - an Addendum
I. What is conversational prayer?
A. Conversational prayer is prayer that proceeds by topics rather than by stated individuals who pray.
1. An individual may pray several times.
2. A topic is dealt with only once and prayer is offered by all those in the group. (The usual method is for a topic to be dealt with many times with individuals praying only once.)
B. In this kind of prayer, topics become the center of activity of prayer rather than an individual.
C. There will be simple phrases or sentences offered for the topic rather than orations.
1. Limit your prayer to one topic or request. This may be adoration, thanksgiving, confession or intercession.
2. Allow others to add to what you have said.
3. Introduce a new topic only as presented topics are well covered.
II. The value of “conversational” prayer.
1. It is easier to maintain attention during conversation prayer time.
2. It is easier to organize what you are asking for with this style of group prayer. There is some difficulty in praying long prayers.
3. It gives opportunity to pray more than once when one remembers something to ask for concerning the topic.
4. It is a help for those who are self-conscious about praying out loud.
One technical difficulty involves remembering to keep your prayer to a single thought, or others may be deprived of their opportunity to participate.
5. It preserves the informality without sacrificing reverence.
III. Tips for success
1. Stick to a topic until you feel no further need to pray for it. This eliminates the “transition” problem.
2. There is no need for each person to add “in Jesus name.” Only the final prayer closes.
IV. This type of praying seems to bring more people into prayer and adds efficiency and economy to one’s prayer life.
V. Objections to this type of praying often come from those who are into long oratorical and eloquent prayers.
VI. Conversational prayer is in addition to, not a substitute for personal prayer of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication.
Related Topics: Discipleship