By Pastor Brian Wipf
During our 21 days of prayer, I brought this question up from time to time during the sermons, but never really answered it. There really isn’t one answer to this question. The Bible actually gives us a variety of reasons why our prayers might not be answered. They might not be answered because we’re not praying in faith (Mt 21:21) or maybe our prayers are not according to God’s will (Mt 26:39). Our prayers may not be answered because we haven’t humbled ourselves before God (2 Chr. 7:14) or because we have treated our wives poorly (1 Pet 3:7)! The Bible gives us many reasons, in fact, why God may not answer our prayers.
But there is one reason that I believe needs to further explained and understood. A clue to the reason I’m thinking of is found in John 15. Jesus says in John 15:7-8, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Do you see the connection Jesus makes between prayer and bearing fruit? God is glorified and honored when we go bear fruit for the kingdom; when you read this entire chapter you discover this is a focal point of Jesus’ teaching – bearing fruit for the kingdom. God accomplishes his mission through his people as they do the good works he commands. But that can only happen when we remain in him. But God gives us the means of accomplishing his work and those means are prayer. This is why FBC’s 3rd heart statement reads Prayer is our Greatest Work – God gets his own work done through the prayers of his people.
So, Jesus makes this promise in vs. 7, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But for what purpose? What goal or objective is Jesus seeking to meet through this promise of answered prayer? His mission; bearing much fruit to the glory of God! So get this: Jesus promises to answer prayer so that his disciples can bear fruit!
Here’s the big take away as I see it: many of us don’t get our prayers answered because our prayers are not offered for the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission; many of our prayers are not for the goal of producing fruit for the kingdom. Instead, we pray for the fulfillment and the advancement of our kingdom. I believe that many of our prayers go unanswered because we don’t pray (or live) with the kingdom of God as our primary aim or desire. Our prayer are often self-centered and disconnected to the purposes and plans of God. When that’s the case about our prayers, we shouldn’t expect them to be answered; Jesus never promised to answer those kinds of prayers.
Do you know what this does for me? It helps me reexamine what I’m living for. It helps me evaluate the priorities of my life. Am I living for Christ and sacrificing to see his priorities advanced or am I living for myself?
It also helps me adjust my expectations about God and his promises. Rather than getting discouraged about God and losing faith that he cares for me, I instead become repentant and humble asking his help to reorient my life around his kingdom so that my prayers are in alignment with him.
So, my good brothers and sisters, keep making the kingdom of God your primary focus and watch God answer your prayers.