Greatest Sermon in History Part 19
The Prayer Promises of God
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 27, 2004
Matthew 7:7-12 (NLT)
Let me ask you a question. There are several
habits that you can implement in your life to help you grow as a
Christian. What would you say are the most important?
(Going to church, reading the Bible, Prayer)
Even children know that these habits are important to the Christian
life. Even new believers understand that they must begin to practice
these habits if they ever want to grow in their relationship with God.
All of them are important, but if I had to identify one of these habits
as standing above the rest, I would have to say prayer is the most
critical. The reason I say that is because in any relationship
communication is fundamental. And that’s what prayer is… it’s
communication with God.
So there’s no surprise that Jesus would address prayer in the Greatest
Sermon in History, the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve been working our way
through these three chapters in Matthew, and we’ve already heard what
Jesus had to say about how we should pray in Matthew 6. That’s where we
looked at the sample prayer He gave us, the Lord’s Prayer. But now in
Matthew 7, Jesus feels He needs to address the topic of prayer again.
But this time, instead of teaching us how we should pray, He tells us
how God will respond to our prayer. And in so doing, He makes us three
So this morning, we’re going to look at these three promises and talk
about how those promises affect us. Okay? And you can use the notes
found in your Sunrise Update to follow along. Let’s go.
You Pray God Promises…
1. Unlimited Blessing
Jesus promises that when we pray and ask God
to supply for our needs He will respond and bless us. He said…
Matthew 7:7 (NLT)
“Keep on asking, and you will be given what
you ask for.”
Check out these other verses…
Psalm 50:10 (NLT)
For all the animals of the forest are mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
Philippians 4:18-19 (NLT)
At the moment I have all I need—more than I
need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with
Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable to
God and pleases him. And this same God who takes care of me will supply
all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in
God can and will supply all your needs. But He expects you to ask.
Here’s a question… why do you need to ask? Ever wonder that? I mean, if
God is God then He already knows all your needs. So why do you need to
ask? Well, first of all, I believe God often does bless us in
unexpected and unrecognized ways. But there are times He does expect us
to ask. Why? Because it forces us to recognize that He is the source of
the blessing, and it reminds us to be thankful.
So what do you need? What do you want? Ask God for it.
Why do we not ask Him? I can only think of three reasons why we
wouldn’t ask God for our needs and wants:
Why do we not pray for our needs?
A. We don’t want Him involved in
This is just our own pride. We don’t want to acknowledge that we need
God. We don’t want to “owe” Him anything. We don’t want to be anything
less than totally self-sufficient.
“We do not live in a praying age. We live in an age of hustle and
bustle, of man’s efforts and man’s determination, of man’s confidence
in himself and his own power to achieve things, an age of human
organization, and human machinery, and human push, and human scheming,
and human achievement; which in the things of God means no real
achievement at all.”
~ R. A. Torrey
When you neglect to pray and ask God to meet your needs, is the message
you’re sending Him that you don’t want Him in your life?
B. We don’t believe He’s capable
But surely the God who created everything that exists… the God who is
the provider of all good things… the God for whom all things are
possible… is more than able to meet all of our needs. From the greatest
to the least.
Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
By his mighty power at work within us, he
is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or
So go ahead and believe that He’s more than capable of answering.
C. We don’t believe He wants to
Maybe you think He’s got better things to do. Maybe you think He’s
annoyed when we ask Him for a gift. Maybe you think He wants to punish
you for the wrongs you have done and therefore you’re exempt from His
Several of you are parents. How many of you have perfect children? I
know some of you THINK your kids are perfect, but really are they? Do
they ever do anything wrong? Sure they do. Does that mean you love them
any less? No. Does it mean you ever want less than the best for them?
Did you catch what Jesus said?
Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT)
You parents—if your children ask for a
loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a
fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people
know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Yes, we are sinful people. We go through life and we make mistakes, we
do wrong things, we hurt God and others. We strive to be as good as we
can, but we inevitably mess up. At least I do. But I’m still God’s
child. He still loves me. He still wants the best for me. And He still
answers my prayer. Not because He has to, but because He wants to.
So why does it seem like God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers, or
perhaps that He ignores them? Maybe it’s because we think the only
legitimate answer He can give is “Yes.” Let me tell you something… God
hears every prayer from each of His children, and He answers every one.
But the answer isn’t always “Yes.”
James 4:2-3 (NLT)
You want what you don't have, so you
scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and
you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from
them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't
ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your
whole motive is wrong--you want only what will give you pleasure.
“So then if we ask for good things, he grants them; if we ask for
things which are not good (either not good in themselves, or not good
for us or for others, directly or indirectly, immediately or
ultimately) he denies them; and only he knows the difference.”
~ John Stott
Essential Living: The Sermon on the Mount
(Leichester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988) p. 189
In your notes…
If the request is wrong, God will say, “No.”
If the timing is wrong, God will say, “Slow.”
If you are wrong, God will say, “Grow.”
When all is right, God will say, “Let’s go!”
(From Bill Hybel’s The Mystery of Unanswered Prayer)
2. Unlimited Guidance
Life can be tough. Wouldn’t it be nice to
have some kind of a manual? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to
direct us and help us make decisions? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some
way of knowing what’s really important in life? Well, that’s what God
offers us through His Word and through prayer. Listen…
Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
“Seek and you will find.”
Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)
Seek his will in all you do, and he will
direct your paths.
My brother is an Accountant. So anytime I have forms or reports I have
to fill out for the government, or whenever I’m trying to figure out
our personal finances, I’ll give him a call. And to date, he has never
hung up on me. I’m sure he gets tired of me calling and I probably
don’t always catch him at the best time, but he always takes the time
to answer my questions and give me whatever guidance I need. Even in
his busiest time of the year during March and April, he’ll take my call
and walk me through whatever questions I have.
Growing up, we had plenty of disagreements. (Okay, fights.) In fact, we
couldn’t stand each other for a while. I think both of us had problems
and knew how to push each other’s buttons. We certainly didn’t show a
lot of “brotherly love” while we were growing up. But even though we’ve
had our problems in the past, he’ll help me if he can and give me
whatever guidance I need.
With my luck, my brother will go on our website and read this message,
but I’m just going to say it: He’s not God. As good as he is and as
much as he helps me out, he’s not God. God is infinitely more patient,
and kind, and loving, and wise, and caring… If I need help, if I need
guidance, if I need comfort, if I need support, I can call on Him and
He’ll always, always, always be there for me.
And all He asks of me is that I seek Him out. That sounds perfectly
fine to me. I get annoyed when people start giving me advice and
butting into my life and sticking their nose in where it doesn’t
belong. I have enough people who feel like they need to give me
unsolicited advice. It’s nice that God’s enough of a gentleman that
He’ll wait until we seek out His advice. He doesn’t resent you for
seeking His advice, but He does wait until you seek it.
3. Unlimited Access
Shera and I went to a couple of hockey games
last year when the Rocket was playing the Quebec Remparts. As some of
you know, Patrick Roy is a co-owner and general manager of the
Remparts. I’ve never been a big fan of Patrick Roy’s, but it was still
an experience to see him at the game. We sat almost directly across the
rink from where he was sitting, and I watched him sneak in after each
period began, and sneak out just before it ended. He was obviously
trying to avoid being swarmed by fans. Plus, he always had a couple of
people around him to be a buffer between him and the crowd. I don’t
think I had much of a chance to get close to him or spend any amount of
time with him.
Tomorrow many of us will be casting our votes in the federal election.
As a non-profit organization, we cannot endorse a specific candidate or
party here at Sunrise. But I can encourage you to check out the issues,
line them up against your faith and beliefs, and vote accordingly.
However the election turns out, I would love to see the Christian
community turn out in force to send a message in favour of protecting
live at all stages, ensuring the freedom of religious expression
including Christianity, and maintaining Judeo-Christian values in our
society including the traditional definition of marriage as a union
between one man and one woman.
So I plan to turn out to vote tomorrow, and I hope you do, too. I
believe it’s an important responsibility that we should take seriously.
But whether the party I vote for wins or not, I don’t expect I’ll ever
have a personal audience with the Prime Minister. I could fly to
Ottawa, march to the Prime Minister’s office and demand to speak to
him, but I don’t expect I’d ever get in. After all, who am I to demand
an audience with the leader of our country? The best I can hope for is
to express my thoughts and concerns to our local MP and hope they
convey my message to the Prime Minister. But there’s no guarantee of
that ever happening. I simply do not have access to the Prime Minister.
But you know what? That’s okay. Why would I want to have an audience
before the Prime Minister when I can go before the King of Kings? Jesus
said to the people on the hillside that day…
Matthew 7:7 (NLT)
“Keep on knocking, and the door will be
In other words, if you want an audience before God the Father, you’ve
got it. Let me put it into context for you. In the Jewish community,
the center of their faith and the center of worship was the temple in
[PowerPoint] This is a map of what Jerusalem supposedly looked at this
time of history. You can see by the size of the temple that it was a
very important part of the Jewish community. In fact, a lot of time and
money had been put into building it. The temple had originally been
built by King David’s son, Solomon, around 966 B.C. It was an extremely
prestigious building that was to be the visible dwelling place of God
on earth and housed the Ark of the Covenant, the chest that contained
the stones that Charlton Heston brought down from Mount Sinai. But that
original temple was destroyed by the Babylonian Army in 586 B.C. who
took the Israelites into captivity.
When the Israelites returned from captivity to Jerusalem 50 years later
they tried to rebuild the temple under the leadership of a man named
Zerubbabel. But this time they didn’t have the money or the people to
rebuild it right, and it became quite an eyesore. Especially for the
people who were old enough to compare it to the grandness of the
original temple. It stood, though, for nearly 500 years before it was
torn down and replaced with a magnificent structure built by Herod the
Great. Herod already had a reputation for building fantastic
structures, and he ordered the rebuilding of the temple in order to
increase that reputation and to win favour from the Jews. He was, after
all, quite an egotist and was very concerned about what people thought
It was Herod’s temple that the people listening to Jesus would be
familiar with. In fact, at the time the temple was still under
construction. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the building
project, construction began on the temple 46 years earlier and it would
continue for another 30 years. Unfortunately, this temple was destroyed
by the Romans in A.D. 70 just seven years after it was completed. And
it hasn’t been rebuilt since, although there is always talk of it.
So the temple isn’t there anymore, but we do have some idea of what it
may have looked like.
POWERPOINT – LEGO TEMPLE
In reality, it probably wasn’t quite that colorful. (Sometimes it’s
just scary what you can find on the Internet.) Actually, there is a
scale model of Herod’s Temple that has been built and is on display in
Jerusalem that looks like this. (If you look closely, you can see some
people standing in the background.)
The Temple Mount covered a large area, including some open air courts,
an altar, and even a fortress. But the most important section is the
tall section in the middle. Only priests were allowed to enter this
building. This building was the Temple proper and contained two main
areas… The Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. THE HOLY PLACE was in the
front and it contained certain sacred objects. THE HOLY OF HOLIES was
behind that and contained nothing at all. It was intended to house the
Ark of the Covenant, but that was either lost or stolen centuries
earlier. Of course, anyone who has watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of
the Lost Ark knows that the Ark is actually buried deep in some
government warehouse in the States. So the Ark of the Covenant wasn’t
in the Holy of Holies, but the Holy of Holies was still considered to
be the visible dwelling place of God on earth. And it was separated
from the rest of the temple by a huge double curtain, that was
someplace between 60 and 90 feet high.
In the eyes of the Jews, this was the room where God lived. And the
average person had no chance of ever entering into His presence there.
In fact, the average priest would not enter His presence, either. Only
one man, the High Priest, was allowed to enter this room, and then only
after going through a strict ritual preparation. That High Priest
represented the people before God. The people couldn’t go there
themselves; the High Priest went there on their behalf. In fact, I
heard that when the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies they
would tie a rope to their foot just in case they dropped dead. Then the
other priests would be able to pull them out of the room. That’s how
strict the rule was that only the High Priest could enter into the
presence of God.
But there was Jesus, standing on the hillside, saying to the people,
“You don’t need no stinkin’ High Priest. You don’t have to go through
any man. You can have direct access to God for yourself. Simply knock
and the door will be opened.”
You need to understand, that was huge! That was revolutionary! There
were probably people in the crowd that day who heard Jesus and decided
then and there that Jesus needed to be silenced, even if it meant
killing Him. This was blasphemy! For those of you who saw The Passion
of the Christ, you can understand why the High Priest Caiaphas was so
determined to do away with Jesus. For him, it was a matter of job
But there were others in the crowd that day who would have experienced
an overwhelming sense of joy and excitement at the idea of approaching
God one on One and having the freedom to access Him whenever they
wanted. These people would have never expected to have an audience
before the high priest, let alone God Himself. But Jesus is telling
them that God wants to give them a private audience with Him.
Within three years of Jesus saying these words, Jesus was arrested,
tried, and unjustly sentenced to death on a cross. And at the very
moment He died, the earth shook and that huge double curtain which
separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn right
down the middle as a powerful reinforcement of Jesus’ message that we
don’t have to go through a high priest. We can have direct access to
God the Father anytime, anyplace.
Some of you may have grown up in traditions where you were taught that
the only way for you to communicate with God is through another man. I
hope you understand this morning that you do not need anyone to be a
go-between. You can and should approach Him directly. You don’t need to
go through me or anyone else.
Well, that’s not completely true. There is One who still operates as
our High Priest… who represents us before God the Father. I’m talking,
of course, about Jesus Christ. The difference is that Jesus doesn’t go
alone before the Father on our behalf, He takes us with Him.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)
That is why we have a great High Priest who
has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never
stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,
for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So
let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will
receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
So those are the three promises we’re given
for how God will respond to our prayers… Unlimited Blessing, Unlimited
Guidance, and Unlimited Access. As a child of God, you don’t need to
make an appointment, you don’t need to be afraid to tell Him what’s on
your mind, you don’t need to be ashamed to have questions and doubts…
He wants to hear about it all. It doesn’t matter how unstructured your
prayers are, doesn’t matter if they sound impressive, doesn’t matter if
you use all the right words… Just be honest and open with Him, and
allow Him to take joy in the fact that you, a child that He loves, has
come to Him in prayer.