Yesterday I caught the radio message of someone I never heard before. Ron Moore, of The Journey, was preaching on prayer. He said that the reason some Christian's prayers are not heard or answered by God is because of insincerity. The prayer never makes if from the lips to the heart. He mentioned Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8 (a quote of Isaiah 29:13).
Is that what it means? Is prayer really that simple? We just have to be sincere? What if an unsaved sinner hears that? Will they get saved just because their prayer of salvation is sincere?
Folks I hope you know the truth. A heart far from God is far because of sin. Not sincerity. Isaiah 59:2. This is more than just a subtle difference in words.
Awake unto righteousness, and sin not.
A program earlier in the day from Dr. Adrian Rogers (Love Worth Finding) was also about prayer. Dr. Rogers quoted heavily from Matthew 7:7. He also spoke an oft-heard phrase, "If God already knows the answer to our prayers, then why pray at all?"
Have you ever heard this answer before?
The question is rhetorically reflexive. The reason why we pray is because God knows the answer. That's why we ask Who we ask. This is ever so much more important than what we ask. The "what" is what God already knows.
Dr. Rogers went on to give a few examples which will also illustrate my point.
He quoted Luke 11:5-8 and provided an excellent amplification of it. The man went to his neighbors house not to ask for bread. He went asking because he knew his neighbor had the bread and was obligated to give him some.
He also quoted Jesus' prayer parable about the widow who would not stop troubling the judge to avenge her of her adversary. Jesus was teaching his disciples to always pray and faint not. How often we make the point of this parable the necessity of persistent prayer. Even Dr. Rogers said so! But that is not the point.
You see, the widow knew who to ask. She didn't just ask anybody on the street to avenge her of her adversary. The man did not ask a friend in the next town for bread. No. They asked of whom they knew had what they needed. The widow knew only the judge had the power to avenge righteously.
Instead of asking, "If God already knows the answer, then why pray?" we should say instead, "Since God already knows the answer, I will ask Him for it."
Now we are getting somewhere! God knows the answer and we don't. So we have to get to Him to get the answer He alone knows we need. How do we do that?
Dr. Adrian Rogers preached an outstanding sermon on that as well. I have quoted it many times in this blog. He brings us to Romans 11:36 to start. It is our prayers in heaven that get answers.
God tells us about our prayers that stay here on earth in James 4:3, Romans 8:26, Proverbs 15:29, and Isaiah 59:2. It is our prayers in heaven as we converse as one with God that is effectual and fervent, availing much. The fruit (answers) of prayer come from abiding in (asking) Jesus.