A Season of Promise 6. The Promise of Answered Prayer

May 31, 2015

Jeremiah 33: 3

Funny voice mails -Hello, if you’re hearing this, that means I’m probably trying to avoid you, so don’t leave a message.

Sorry, we’re not here right now. Please leave your name and number after the tone. If you are calling regarding an outstanding debt, please leave your message before the tone.

Hi, if this is one of my parents, I am at church. If this is my teacher, I am studying. If I owe you money, I paid it in today. So leave a message BUT…if this is my friend, just say your name and I will pick up immediately. Thanks.

Aren’t you glad that when we call God He always picks up? When you call out to Him, He will answer. You’ll never get an engaged signal or have to leave a voicemail. We’ve been learning an important truth about God – He makes promises and it’s His nature to keep those promises.

Psalm 145: 13 “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”

 

God loves to answer prayer when we want what He wants.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

The Text in Context

Jeremiah was a mouthpiece of the Almighty and was charged with delivering mostly bad news to God’s people. Known as the “weeping prophet” because of his many tears, he was also bold and brave when communicating God’s message.

Due to the deliberate disobedience of the nation, after warning upon warning, God announced that they would be punished by Babylon. Their land would be decimated and they would be deported to a pagan land. In the midst of all this mess, God gives hope to Jeremiah by telling him to buy some property. This was God’s way of promising that His people would return, which they did 70 years later. Jeremiah’s message was not popular because it was not positive.

One of the things Jeremiah taught - God loves to answer prayer. In fact He promises to do so.

Pastor owned a parrot. All he would say is “Let’s pray, let’s pray.” Pastor tried to teach him other sayings. Remembered that a deacon in the church had a parrot with a similar problem, his female parrot would only say, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” Let the parrots spend some time together. The deacon’s parrot immediately said, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” Pastor’s parrot replied, “Thank you Lord, my prayers have been answered.”

Let’s see how God promises to answer our prayers. God loves to answer prayer when we want what He wants.

 

1. Remember God’s Presence   v. 1

Jeremiah was confined, locked up and alone. He felt ignored, rejected and despised. But you are never alone if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We’ll learn more about the promise of God’s presence.

2. Reflect on God’s Power   v. 2

Since God is the creator, He can handle any catastrophe or chaos that you’re going through right now. He has founded us, formed us and fixed us. I encourage you to incorporate God’s names into your times of prayer. When you’re filled with anxiety, call out to Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace. When you’re in need of healing, reach out to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. When you need God’s provision, cry out to Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.

The title “LORD” - He is the covenant-keeping God, the ultimate promise keeper. He performs all that He promises. He always does what He says He will do.

3. Respond to God’s Promise   v. 3

Because God is always present and always powerful, He will keep His promise. Let’s look now at v. 3 and break it down into 3 parts. God loves to answer prayer when we want what He wants.

 

A. Call to God.

Sometimes we make prayer more complicated than it should be. At its core, prayer is simply crying out to God: “Call to me…” It was used to describe the cry of young ravens as they waited for food. It was also used of a child crying out for help when in danger.

Many have referred to Jeremiah 33:3 as God’s phone number because we’re invited to “call” Him.

As natural as prayer should be, even Jeremiah the prophet had to be commanded to call out to the Lord. This is an imperative invitation: “Call to me…” For some reason, we resist reaching out to God, even when we’re going through tough times. We’re a lot like Jonah who instead of crying out to God for help, went below deck and fell into a deep sleep. We need a wake-up call like he received from the ship’s captain in Jonah 1: 6: “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Our sleepiness and Satan himself fight to keep us from crying out to God in prayer. When the disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said this in Matthew 26: 41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

James 4: 2 gives us a reason why we don’t receive answers: “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” Jesus said it like this in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 

B. Catch God’s Answers.

“…and I will answer you…” God is never preoccupied or busy or away from the phone when we call out to Him. He promises to answer us. Psalm 4: 3: “The Lord will hear when I call to him.” But let’s be honest. It sometimes seems that our prayers are not answered, doesn’t it?

“If the request is wrong, God says, ‘No.’ If the timing is wrong, God says, ‘Slow.’ If you are wrong, God says, ‘Grow.’ But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, ‘Go’!”

Before leaving this point, the Bible does put some conditions on God answering prayer. Here are some that I’m aware of -

 Make sure you’re a born again believer. Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

 Make your requests in Jesus’ name. John 14:13: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”

 Ask according to God’s will. Matthew 6:10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

 Confess all known sin in your life. Psalm 66:18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

 Live in peace with your spouse. 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

 Forgive those who have wronged you. Mark 11:25: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

 Make sure your motives are right. James 4:3: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

 Stay close to Christ. John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

 Listen to God’s Word. Proverbs 28:9: “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”

 Be willing to share with the poor. Proverbs 21:13: “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

 

C. Comprehend God’s Greatness.

When we call out to Him and then catch His answers, we should expect the unexpected. God loves to go way beyond what we ask for as He puts His glory and grandeur on full display: “…and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

When we call out to God and we experience His answers, we are often overwhelmed by the awesomeness of God Himself as He comes near, revealing things that we did not previously understand.

God is great and He loves to show us new and mighty things -

Isaiah 48: 6 (ESV): “From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.”

Ephesians 3: 20: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

We don’t have time to go through all of Jeremiah 33 so let me just hit some highlights of what some of those “great and mighty things” are in this chapter alone. God gives Jeremiah promise after promise while he’s in prison to give him hope while he’s hurting - I will bring healing and give abundant peace to my people (v. 6), I will bring my people back to the land (v. 7),I will cleanse them and forgive their sin (v. 8),Jerusalem will once again have honor and renown (v. 9), There will be sounds of joy and gladness in the future (v. 11), There will be pastures for the flocks (v. 12).

 

A Call to Prayer

Brothers and sisters, we must call out to God, we must catch His answers and then strive to comprehend His greatness. We can do that because of His presence, His power and His promise.

Jeremiah 33: 3 again: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” I don’t want to just preach about prayer; I also want to give some practical pointers and then we’re going to pray.

1. Pray God’s promises back to Him. When you come across a promise of God, simply bring that promise to God in prayer. “Lord, you know that I need to rest in your victory. Thank you for your promise in Romans 8 that nothing can separate me from your love. Because you are faithful, you are for me.”

“Thank you that when I’m weary and worn out with hurts, habits or hang-ups you promise in Matthew 11:28 to give me rest when I come to you.”

2. Pray Scripture passages back to God. Closely related to praying a promise back to God, why not take an entire passage and pray it to Him. Or, when you come across one of the prayers in the Bible, make it your own.

3. Pray for your pastors.

5. Pray for the persecuted. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are in desperate need of our prayers right now.

6. Pray for your neighbours and classmates and coworkers and family members.

One of my favourite voice mail greetings is when I call and hear something like this: “Hi this is Boo. You know what to do.” When it comes to prayer, I imagine God saying, “Hi this is God. You know what to do.” We know we’re supposed to pray but many times we just don’t do it.

Our problem isn’t that we need to know more about prayer; it’s that we need to grow in prayer.

 

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