Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus seems to say that whatever we request, we can have. What are the conditions on answered prayer?
Is it all tied to how fully we believe? Today, what Jesus meant when he said, Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, how far does whatever you ask really go?
Well, Dave, I'm going to give a brief but perhaps a very accurate answer to your question, and that is, it goes as far as the will of God, as far as God wants it to go. We've all had the experience of unanswered prayer, and we know how disappointing that can be. But thank God that even in the midst of unanswered prayer, he comes to us and reminds us that he walks with us during those days of uncertainty and never lets us walk alone. In that, we must take comfort.
Let me ask you a question today. Are you blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win? Running to Win is not the product or the ministry of one person or a church or an organization. Running to Win is your ministry, and we're so thankful for the larger family God has given us. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
When you're there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let us always keep in mind every word that Jesus speaks to us is special. It sounds as if it's a carte blanche. Ask whatever you want to ask. If you ask for a $50,000 a year job, make it $150,000.
Make it $1,050,000. Ask for whatever you like. You fill it in, and God will do it. We know that that can't be the case because we all know that we've asked things that we've not received. Some people say that this applied only to the apostles because interestingly the Apostle Paul did not make such blanket statements about prayer. You remember he said, offer your prayer to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. He said what you'll receive is not necessarily the answer to your prayer, what you will receive is peace.
But I think even within the context of Christ's words there are limitations that are clear. First of all, he says, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. To ask in the name of Christ means that we ask consistent with the character and the desires of Jesus.
Because he doesn't lend his name to everyone. You can't say that you've just tagged on the name of Jesus at the end of a prayer and therefore you can expect a request. Remember in the book of Acts, the sons of Sceva were able to cast out, or they wanted to cast out demons like the Apostle Paul, and they said, we're going to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons. And they began to use the name of Jesus and some demons came and ripped their clothes off and they fled naked because the demons said, Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who in the world are you? Could I ask parenthetically do you think that your name is known in the spirit world?
But they learned something. It's not just tagging the name of Jesus onto a prayer that makes it powerful and that asks God to answer it. It means that we ask consistent with the character and the desire of Jesus. Often I've been asked to lend my name to certain organizations and I still do that from time to time, but I'm more careful than I used to be because one time a man came to me who was well known and he was beginning this organization and he asked whether or not I could have my name on his letterhead and I said yes. And then I learned later that his organization was going in an entirely different direction which is quite contrary to where I was at.
So I asked that my name be removed. In the very same way to come in the name of Jesus means that we come understanding his will, his desires. F. B. Meyer said, let the living water which has descended from the eternal city return back to its source through the channel of your heart. You are really praying the will and the plans of God. So the first limitation is we ask in his name. The second is that we ask that the Father may be glorified in the Son. That means that we come now not with our own agendas, but we come with God's agenda. And we don't use prayer simply to say, Lord, I'm in difficulty.
Please get me out. Though it's fine to pray prayers like that and God often hears the prayers of those who are troubled. But at the end of the day, what we say is, Lord, I want to give to you. I want to submit to you and I want the Father to be glorified in the Son. In fact, I desire that he be glorified more than I desire that my personal request be answered.
It's that burning desire to see the glory of God. I think the best illustration of this kind of prayer is Jesus in Gethsemane. Notice that Jesus didn't come and say, now Father, get me out of here at all costs. He said, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.
If it's possible. But nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And then he prayed a second time and says, Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass from me, thy will be done. Now that's prayer to the glory of God. What did it give Jesus?
It did not give him exemption from his trial and his suffering. That prayer gave him the ability to go through that suffering for the glory of God because it was his death that glorified God because by that you and I were redeemed. You read the ministry of Jesus in the New Testament and what you see is constantly the glory of the Father, the honor of the Father is really all that mattered.
The suffering of the Son was secondary always to the glory of God. And we need to pray that way too. We give God our desires, but then we say, Father, if it be possible, let this happen or this not happen. But Father, nevertheless, if it cannot be otherwise, thy will be done. Now that's scriptural praying. It's praying that doesn't take us out of the pain, but praying that gives us the grace to endure in the midst of the pain. But nevertheless, it's a marvelous promise if we pray in the name of Jesus and for the glory of God.
And that's why you'll notice in the card that you have before you, we not only have greater works and a greater promise, but we have a greater challenge. I think, for example, of George Mueller who began some orphanages in England and he did not begin them primarily to take care of these street children, though the need was great. He said that that was not his primary motivation. He said his motivation was that there were so many Christians who did not believe in prayer and they did not believe in God. There were three categories of people who refused to trust God.
First of all, there were old people who thought to themselves, we need to be filled with anxiety because in our old age and in those days, the 1800s, they did not have social security. They believed that God would not care for them and so they were filled with anxiety and Mueller said they need an example of what it is like to trust God. Secondly, he said there were businessmen who were doing business just like the world, like that man from whom I bought a camera lens in Hong Kong many years ago who said, I too cannot play straight because along this street there are all these other stores and if I'm totally honest, I will not be able to pay my bills. I encouraged him to just go for broke and to trust God. I'm not sure that he accepted my encouragement. But Mueller said there were businessmen like that who said to themselves, if I really play honestly, God will not bless my business and the competition will eat me alive.
So they compromise. Then there was a third group and that was people who were in doubtful professions who said to themselves, I'm not in a good profession that honors the Lord but nevertheless, I need it in order to live. So Mueller said I'm going to begin orphanages and the rule is going to be that I will ask for no funds ever. And all that I'm going to do is pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray so that we have examples and illustrations of the faithfulness of God to inspire faith in the lives of believers who doubt him.
And you know the rest of the story, don't you? Years ago I read his biography of how one miracle after another happened even when the kids sat down with nothing on the table. There would be that knock on the door and someone would bring groceries and day after day after day they prayed and they prayed and they prayed and they prayed and God answered and answered and answered and answered and answered.
Notice what the text says. You ask in the name of Jesus, which Mueller most assuredly did, and that the Father would be glorified in the Son. And what glorifies God more than secret praying that brings about public answers. Now we struggled with unanswered prayer but here it is folks.
Whatever you ask along those lines Jesus said I will do. You say yeah but you know there are marriages today and it would be very honoring if God were to bring the two together and we've prayed and we've prayed and God has not done that. I know those situations but all that we can do is to continue to humble ourselves and to pray and to pray and to pray and to know that God might have an agenda within our hearts and within the hearts of those that struggle that is even beyond our agenda. So we always need to commit it to the glory of God and say God let thy glory shine and that the Father may be glorified through the Son. But we don't give up praying because we have not seen the answers to our prayer. Rather we persevere in prayer believing and trusting and yielding. Sometimes prayers aren't answered quickly Jesus said on one occasion when the disciples were trying to cast out demons he said that there is some kind that do not go out except by prayer and fasting. Jesus is saying that there are times when God uses unanswered prayer as disciplines so that we might be more persistent, more believing, more holy, more committed, and more determined to see the answer. So I say to you today do not give up. Do not give up because the answer may be on its way.
How do we conclude? First of all I want you to notice today that we've emphasized that we carry on. We carry on Christ's work. If we would reread the text we'd notice this. Jesus said I do the work of my Father and now he's saying and I want you to know that when you're in this life and I'm up in heaven and I've sent the Holy Spirit you continue my work.
You are my hands, you are my feet, you are my eyes, you are my love. I think of that Kaiser Wilhelm Church in Berlin that we saw recently where the statue of Christ fell over in World War II when the church was severely bombed and it's been left and restored as a ruin as a reminder of the war but they were restoring this statue but one of the arms was broken off and they decided that they would not restore that arm and it's there today in the church without an arm as a reminder that Christ's arms are really our arms. Jesus isn't here today to minister to that boy without a father. Jesus isn't here today to help that single mother.
Jesus isn't here today to give a word of encouragement to a young woman who may find herself bearing a child. Jesus isn't here today to speak those words of comfort to do those acts of kindness but what he's saying is as I go to the father I'm leaving you behind to carry on my work. The works that I do you shall do also.
Yes the proclamation of the gospel but wrapped up in that the love and the concern and the compassion of Jesus spilling over in my life and yours into the lives of others. So we carry on doing Christ's work. We also carry on with Christ's power and his blessing and that gift of the Holy Spirit and we don't do so discouraged because we believe in the Holy Spirit. We believe in the power of God. We believe in the ability of God to do those miracles to take those hardened hearts and to change them and so we go on and we ask God to purify us. We ask God to teach us discipline. We use unanswered prayer as a motivation to seek God more intimately, more determinedly and we keep on going because he said if you ask in my name and for the glory of the father that will come to pass and so we submit and we yield and we believe and we keep going.
One day a man who was chiseling some marble stones for a construction project, a minister walked by and said you know I sure wish that I knew a way to bring the same chisel and the same hammer blows to the human hearts that I deal with that you do to those stones that you are shaping and the story is that the man said yes you can if you work like I do on my knees. Now each of us faces situations today or we know of situations today that humanly speaking are totally impossible. The worst thing we can do is to give up and to simply say we're going to stop praying because we've prayed and it hasn't worked. Jesus would say wait a moment think of the implications.
You pray in the name of Jesus consistent with his will and you pray for the glory of the father that God may be glorified and you ask God to purify us so that our motives are exactly that pure and the people for whom we are praying that they might be purified through their struggles but we keep on going because we have confidence that human hearts and situations can be changed if we work on our knees. Yes the works that I do shall he do also. Through the proclamation of millions of believers greater works shall he do because of the gift of the Spirit and we go on believing no matter what. One day some disciples came to Jesus the disciples of John they came to Jesus and they said you know John is in prison and he's beginning to doubt whether you're the Messiah because the Old Testament says that the prisons are going to be opened and the dead are going to be raised and these things aren't happening and he's beginning to wonder whether you're the Messiah.
Tell us are you he that should come or should we look for another? Jesus said well go back tell John he says the dead are being raised the blind are seeing and the poor have the gospel preached onto them and then Jesus added this little statement he said and blessed is he who is not offended because of me. We could translate blessed is he who is not upset with the way I run my business. Blessed is the person who comes before God with his requests and leaves them there and comes and and keeps believing and keeps trusting even if he doesn't see the answers that he thinks should come.
Blessed is the person who just keeps on going on because he believes that when God desires the answer will come. Join me as we pray together. Father we really do desire that we be a praying people and we ask today that you might help us to keep hanging in to keep believing. We pray that like George Mueller that you might all give us those wonderful examples of secret praying and public answers. Teach us what it's like Lord to pray only for the glory of God setting aside all personal interests that you be glorified and that you receive all the credit and all the honor and for that we shall thank you in Jesus name. Amen. You know my friends I have to tell you in all honesty that Rebecca and I have certainly struggled about the fact that God sometimes doesn't answer prayers the way we think he should.
We've had several friends who have died of COVID. Some of them were quite young. We called on God.
We fasted. We prayed and they were not healed. But as I mentioned in the message blessed are those who are not upset with the way God runs his business and you and I must be willing to trust him even when we do not understand his ways. You know I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win and by the way if you're blessed it's because there are others out there who have supported this ministry. Would you become a part of what I like to call the Running to Win family? I hold in my hands a letter from someone who said I have had some guilt issues myself and must say that your sermons lifted the bondage forever. My sister requested prayer for a friend of hers. Now we are all sharing copies of the sermons with our friends and relatives. You my friend have a part in what Running to Win is doing.
Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Perhaps you've heard me say this before it is those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course the amount that you give is entirely at your direction and your choice. Now here's what you can do to at least find more info. You can go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me thank you in advance for helping us and those who stand with us regularly. We're deeply grateful for you and we're actually deeply grateful for everyone.
All who are listening, all who are blessed, together our desire is to bring glory to God. That info again is rtwoffer.com. When you're there by the way click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Right now you can make a decision to become a part of the Running to Win family 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian faith. Ever wonder how salvation is viewed by Islam? Joseph from Illinois asks, I've become friends with some people of the Islamic faith. I found out that salvation in Islam is founded on believing in and surrendering your will to God and nothing more. They say that God doesn't need to sacrifice himself to atone for the sins of mankind because he can forgive anything he wants. Will God forgive someone who doesn't trust Christ and receive him as their savior, including Muslims who just submit themselves to God?
Good question Joseph, couple of comments. Yes, it is true that Muslims submit themselves to Allah as they understand him. And they accept Jesus Christ as a teacher but they do not believe that he is divine. In fact, that is considered to be the greatest sin. And this highlights the difference actually, and there are many differences between Christianity and Islam, and many differences between Allah and Jehovah. In the Bible, God does need a sacrifice in order to forgive sins. God simply cannot allow bygones to be bygones.
Being eminently just, he cannot simply forgive. Sin must be paid for. In Islam, you pay for your own sins. I've talked to Muslims who have told me that. Every time I ask them, do you think that you have enough good deeds to get to heaven? I've never yet met one who has said yes.
They all simply hope that eventually they will have enough. The bottom line is that the God of the Bible is different from Allah. And by the way, did you know that in the Qur'an, Jesus Christ does not die on the cross? Someone else is crucified in his place. So the very heart of Christianity is denied in Islam. Well, there's so much more that I could say Joseph, but the bottom line is simply this, that when Muslims believe that they will stand before God on the basis of their own record, someday they will get their wish.
They will be there based on their own record. But as the Bible indicates, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, they will fall short of receiving God's acceptance and God's forgiveness. Keep in mind, Christ alone can give us the righteousness we need to stand in God's holy presence. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Jesus knows we need supernatural strength, and so he sent the Holy Spirit to provide that strength for every child of God. Next time on Running to Win, Jesus reveals the Helper to come after his death and resurrection. Don't miss how to have a strengthened heart. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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