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When We Pray - Unanswered, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2023 6:00 am

When We Pray - Unanswered, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 15, 2023 6:00 am

We've all had those unexpected phone calls, sudden revelations, or tragedies that cause us to cry out to God in desperation – “Please, please help!" But in this program, guest teacher Ryan Ingram asks: what do we do when God seems to be silent to our frantic pleas? As we continue his series, When We Pray, Ryan will help us navigate the complex and painful subject of unanswered prayers.


We've all had those unexpected phone calls, those sudden revelations or tragedies that literally cause us to fall to our knees, to cry out to God in desperation. And we say, Oh, God, please help. Please intervene.

This is such a crisis. And then we're met with what seems like God's silence. No answer.

What do you do then? That's what we'll cover today. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We are a discipleship-driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. Today we're getting back to our new series, When We Pray, taught by our guest speaker, Ryan Ingram. As society drifts further from God's word, we realize it's critical to turn to biblically grounded voices like Ryan's to help us better engage with the world around us. In this program, he's addressing a very complicated and often painful part of our walk with God, unanswered prayers. If you've ever been there, you know how challenging it can be to your faith.

So if you're ready, Ryan's going to give some heartfelt encouragement as we join him for today's talk. When my daughter was six months old, she had, we didn't know it at the time, but she had an intestinal disease. She was incredibly uncomfortable, in constant pain, like you just see this little being, six months old, can't communicate, the only thing you can do is cry. And we're trying to figure out what's wrong with this little baby that got all of our hearts. And I mean, we're going to doctors and then specialists, and over a few months they finally get the diagnosis and they say she has this disease and she's going to need surgery. And you can only imagine as brand new parents, like, wait, you're telling me you're going to have to put my six month old under and cut her open and cut out parts of her.

Like, oh my gosh. I mean, we had our entire church at the time praying, and she was scheduled for a Monday, a Monday surgery, and our entire church, we were fasting and praying and God showed up. I mean, this is like one of those moments where you're going like, whoa, God showed up. And I'll spare you the details, and partly because I don't want to embarrass my daughter either, it's her story to tell, but God showed up, we called the doctor and we're like, hey, this happened, what do you think about Delaine, do you think? And they're like, absolutely, he healed our daughter 18 years ago, like miraculously.

Isn't it amazing? Like, God does those things still today. When my daughter was five, my wife and her saw a pastor that's down south and they just saw that their daughter was diagnosed with kidney cancer. And both my daughter and my wife, and then it soon our entire family, we just started to pray with this pastor's family for their daughter, Daisy, who for three and a half years battled cancer, had a whole community praying for them, who like, did all of the best procedures, and yet three and a half years she lost her fight and she went home to be with Jesus for both pastors, both daughters, in fact, our daughters the same age.

Why is it that it seems like God heals sometimes, but not all the times? You know, this past summer my son and I, actually our whole family was in Mexico with our high school mission to Mexico trip, and my son was out with a group and they're ministering in the towns, and as they were doing this, this lady had a hand that was shriveled up and just unusable, and so they pray for her and nothing happens. They pray again and miraculously God heals her hand. And a hand that she wasn't able to use, now she's able to pick things up, and my son sees God heal. And then there's a family in our community, some of our best friends that we have been praying for six years for God to heal. She underwent brain surgery a year and a half ago and still didn't see the healing through that, and then it even got worse. She just had surgery a week ago and found a tumor. Why does God heal seem to answer prayer some of the time, but not all the time? Why did God choose to heal my daughter then but not Daisy?

That lady's shriveled hand, and then my friend, why does it seem like it's just getting worse? Today we're actually going to dive into the deep waters of unanswered prayers, knowing that as we step into this room, we all in some way have deep longings in places where we have just longed for God to speak, longed for God to move, and yet it just felt silent. And I want to navigate as best and as wisely as I can, and I also acknowledge this is a big subject. This isn't a sermon, this is a series, and so we're not going to try to cover all of it, and I want to resource you. I've been reading this book for the last several weeks. It's called God on Mute by Peter Gregg. It's a great book engaging the silence of unanswered prayer and talking about his journey.

He's a charismatic Anglican in England who led this 24-7 prayer movement, global international movement, and seeing God heal, and then at the same time his wife had a brain tumor, and then after the surgery has debilitating seizures and seeing God not heal in that circumstance, and just a powerful, incredible resource. And so if you're in the season of those deep waters, I hope today brings some clarity and some encouragement, but I also encourage you dive deeper. John 14, 13-14 says, and this is what Jesus is saying, the night he is betrayed before he's about to be crucified, his final words to his disciples, and he's encouraging them, strengthening them, equipping them for what's ahead. And he says this, and I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I'll do it. And isn't that the tension of our soul, is you're like, okay Ryan, I get like we've talked about in his name, like that's in the line with the character and the will of God, in the line of his character name, but I'm pretty sure, doesn't it seem like the healing of this incredibly young girl would have been in his character and name? Like I've been praying for healing for my marriage, and I haven't seen it yet. Maybe you were a kid, and you were praying that your parents would get back together. And you prayed every night that somehow God would restore, and he didn't do it. Like we get stuck in this world of these promises, these passages, that, how incredible that Jesus actually says that when you pray, it affects change, and God actually moves on our behalf, and you're like, yeah, but why is it just some of the time?

We have the stories, and we've seen it. And for many, you probably have experienced a tangible answer to prayer, but why is it some of the time, not all of the time? In our time together, I want to just ask a couple questions, and then leave us with Jesus' unanswered prayer. A couple questions, the first one is why some prayers go unanswered. The second question is how do we live in the tension of unanswered prayers? And then we're going to conclude with actually Jesus himself had an unanswered prayer, and how it informs us in our daily lives today. Well, why some prayers, why do they go unanswered? Why do some prayers go unanswered? And these are more, I want to just go over some conditions of our heart that actually create barriers or roadblocks in our prayer.

The first is simply this, and it's so obvious, but it's really true, is we simply don't pray. We worry. We worry a lot about it, don't we? We anxiously hope, I wish.

We talk a lot about it. We tell everyone about it, but we don't pray. Jesus said in Matthew 7, 7, ask, and it'll be given. Seek, and you'll find.

Search. First question, why some prayers go unanswered, is have I really prayed? I mean, have you really brought it before the Lord? Have you really come before? Have you sought him? Have you said, no, no, I'm setting my face towards you, and I'm going to cling to you, and I'm going to search after you, and I'm going to call upon you.

Have you really prayed? The second reason some prayers go unanswered is we have unconfessed sin. Psalm 68, 18 says, if I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

He wouldn't hear me. If I'd cherish sin in my heart, if I live in a way that is contrary to the wills and the way of Jesus, if I have habitual, consistent sin, and we're not talking about perfection here. We're talking, though, about being honest and confessing and repenting.

First John 1, 9 says, if you confess your sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. First Peter 3, 11 says, for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. He's quoting a Psalm here, and his ears are attentive to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Now, if you read the context of First Peter 3, men, in particular husbands, listen up, because Peter addresses husbands and says, husbands, if you do not honor your spouse, God will not hear you.

That should have been like amazing amen by like a number of you ladies in here, by the way. Like there's a way that when you treat another human being, there's a way when you treat your spouse that it actually breaks connection and creates a barrier in your prayer life. See, the first reason some prayers go unanswered is because we simply don't pray. The others is we harbor sin in our life. We have unconfessed sin where we need to come before.

He's eager, eager to cleanse us. Third is we come with the wrong motives. We come with the wrong motives. James, the brother of Jesus, writes this, you do not have because you do not ask God. And then when you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures. Come with the wrong motives.

It goes something like this. God, if you give me this job, then I will bring you so much glory in it. God, if I close this deal, I'll be able to give so much more to you.

Let's just be honest. None of us pray with 100% pure motives. So for example, this morning as I'm preparing, one of my prayers is, God, would you speak powerfully through me that your word would bring life and hope and shape those who hear it? Now at the same time, there is a motive inside me that I have to be honest about that, yes, I long for God to speak through me, but I also at the very same time long for him to speak through me so that you think well of me. Isn't it amazing how we can pray very spiritual prayers and yet still have this tension of motive? See, if unconfessed sin, you ask the question, is there anything in me that's not of you? With our motives, you simply begin to ask, do I have anything in me?

Is there any motive that's not of you? Where's the mixture? Let's just be honest. Most of our prayers have it. That's okay. Here's what you do with it. You go, God, and this is what I did this morning.

This is a really deep water subject, and I long for you to speak. And at the same time, I acknowledge myself and my brokenness and my proclivity that I want people to think well of me, and I just use proclivity as a big word to impress you that I know words. Hello, sinful, human.

Right? And you acknowledge that motive, and you bring it before your heavenly Father. Have I honestly evaluated my motives? We just don't pray. We have unconfessed sin. We come with the wrong motives.

The final one will kind of shock you a little bit. We fail to practice generosity and justice. You find this throughout the Old Testament, specifically Proverbs, Psalms, prophets. You see it in the life of Jesus.

Proverbs 21, 13 says this, whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. Jesus would give us the great commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it. That and is a conjunction in which it is in the tense that we'd say the second cannot be taken from it.

It is intricately linked. Like you cannot love God and not do the second, and we think we can. The second is and love your neighbor as yourself.

My vertical love and relationship with God always expresses in love to His people and to the world around me. When we fail to do justice, to love mercy, to be generous, when we think that all that we have is just ours for our own sake instead of all that we have has been given by God, we're simply a steward. And so my time, my talent, my treasure, all that I have is yours. And you place me on this planet for such a time as this.

You've equipped me, and so I am going to unleash generosity because you've been so generous to me. And the heart of the Father is to bring about justice to restore those who are broken and hurting with no voice and no hope. And so why do some of our prayers go unanswered? We just don't pray. We have unconfessed sin.

We come with the wrong motives, or we fail to practice generosity. Now the reality is those first two stories, those prayers were unanswered. They prayed. We prayed. They confessed their sin. We confessed our sin.

They evaluated the motives, living generous, just lives. And so the reality is, is how do we live in the tension of unanswered prayers this side of eternity? And what I want to do is just real briefly outline some theological ideas. And hopefully, wet your appetite to go deeper, because we don't have time to dive into the depths of these waters. But I hope to just get your toe in it just a little bit, you know, so that you go like, oh, there is more.

There's more than what I've thought there was. And so I want to talk about three theologies we need to embrace in the tension of unanswered prayers. The first theology is a theology of pain and suffering. Church, in America, we need a theology of pain and suffering, and we've adopted bad theology. Bad theology will corrupt you and kill you. The American theology around pain and suffering is, if I follow Jesus, my life will work out right.

That is not true. The belief is God exists to meet my needs and make me happy. God exists for His own glory, not yours, by the way. Pain, hardship, and suffering means that God has failed me. And so this produces a fragile faith that cannot withstand the storms of life. That is the theology that we have adopted in American Christianity, that if my life is not working out right, God has somehow failed me. And yet, no other world religion has a better explanation of the problem of pain and suffering than Christianity. And no other world religion has a God who suffered as well. And we worship the suffering servant who came and suffered on our behalf. Well, the theology of pain and suffering, we're not gonna go real deep into this, but let me just give you one little kind of banner, if you will. First, we live in a fallen world. If you got your Bible, slip over to Romans chapter eight. Romans chapter eight, and God works all things together for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purposes. And people say, and God works all things together, and people say it, and it's cliche. But it's cliche because it's pulled out of its context.

Let's get to the context. I consider, verse 18, I consider that our present sufferings, so Paul is undergoing present suffering. He is writing a letter to the church in Rome who is undergoing present suffering. They're in the will of God, and they are suffering. Those aren't contradictory, are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us, for the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed, for the creation was subject to frustration.

Why? Back in the garden when humanity chose their own way, creation was subject to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, us, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage to decay and brought into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in pains of childbirth right up into this present time. We have to understand, in this life, someone once said famously, you will have, thank you, four of you.

Isn't that funny? That's the promise of Jesus we don't quote a lot. Like, we're banking on all these other promises. Jesus promised it. In this life, you will have trouble. Philippians 3, 10-11. I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection.

The next phrase we could live without. And participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead. I want to know the power of the resurrection and participation in his suffering.

Because if I'm going to follow in the ways of Jesus, I follow a suffering servant. You've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher Ryan Ingram's message unanswered from his series, When We Pray. Chip and Ryan will both join us here in studio with some additional thoughts about today's program in just a minute. If you're like most Christians, this subject is often a confusing, mis-prioritized, and forgotten part of our faith journey. But in this new series, guest teacher Ryan Ingram will motivate us to get a healthier, more beneficial view of prayer. He'll debunk common misbeliefs about talking to God, how to practice stillness, and what we're to do when our prayers seemingly go unanswered. If you genuinely want to strengthen your prayer life, this teaching will help.

Catch up on any part of this series by visiting or the Chip Ingram app. Our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, has joined me in studio now to share a quick word. Thanks so much, Dave. I want to take just a few minutes to talk about something really important, and I hope especially for those of you that are regular listeners, you'll agree. God has been using the ministry of Living on the Edge in incredible ways. We've been growing and reaching folks like never before, and you're an important part of that. Your gifts to Living on the Edge make it possible for us to be present in places that without you we simply couldn't be. Many of these places are extremely dangerous to proclaim the name of Christ, and your gifts make it possible for us to reach people in desperate situations right here in the United States. I can't tell you how many emails and letters I receive that somewhere in that letter or email it's like, I was on my way to the abortion clinic, or I was planning to end my life, or I was about to give up on my marriage, or I was giving up on God because of something terrible that happened to me, but then I started listening to you on my drive to work, or my neighbor gave me this book, or I found your app, and this series on overcoming emotions, or whatever.

It was God's catalyst to begin a total transformation in my life. These things aren't happening because of Chip Ingram or even Living on the Edge. They're happening because God is working in and through those who by faith respond and obey Him. You know, we can't do anything alone.

That's because it's not God's plan for any of us. We are in this together, and Living on the Edge as God's ministry is about you and me doing exactly what God calls us to do. And so I would ask you, first, would you really pray for the ministry? And second, would you pray specifically about partnering at a deeper level and partnering with us financially?

Do whatever God leads you to do, and let me say in advance, let's keep pressing ahead, and thank you very much. Thanks Chip. If joining the Living on the Edge team is an idea that makes sense to you, let me encourage you to become a monthly partner. You can do that today at or through the Chip Ingram app. Or if it's easier, text donate to 74141.

That's the word donate to 74141. Well, here again is Chip and Ryan to give some application for today's message. Well, Ryan, this has been a great series, and I will say you were very direct. In fact, I might even say you were kind of calling out, if you will, 21st Century Church in America about having a very inaccurate and even dangerous view about pain and suffering. Why is this like God doesn't want me to hurt or go through any hard times? Why is that so appealing? And then could you sort of close our time with why is it important to have an accurate view of God, to have an abiding, intimate relationship with Him?

Absolutely. I think it's incredibly important to address, as you say, and I agree, this dangerous ideology in Western Christianity, that God exists to make me happy and for my life to work out right. That Jesus has become the means to the happy life and the American dream. And the problem is, is if I'm unhappy or if my life doesn't work out the way I plan, then actually God has failed me.

And as a pastor for the last 20 years, I'm just so sad as I've watched so many people become disillusioned with God and walk away from the faith because they bought into this way of thinking. Jesus, by the way, isn't a means to the version of life you think you want. Jesus is life in Himself. You see, Jesus is peace in whatever circumstance you're going through. Jesus is hope, no matter how broken and hopeless the world is around you.

I like how Corrie Timboon once said it. She said, you may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. We must become a people that fixes our eyes on Jesus and the author and perfecter of our faith. As the author of Hebrews instructs us, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorned and ashamed and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He says, consider Him Jesus, who endured such opposition from sinners so that you'll not grow weary and lose heart. You see, Jesus is more than enough for you. And today in this moment, would you simply fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.

Thanks for that word, Ryan. And as we close, if you're looking for good Bible content, check out the Chip Ingram app. You can listen to our most recent series or sign up for daily discipleship with Chip, a great resource to help you study God's word at a deeper level. We want you to grow in your walk with Jesus and the Chip Ingram app will help you do just that. Well, join us next time as guest teacher, Ryan Ingram continues his series, When We Pray. Until then, this is Dave Drouy, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-15 05:50:35 / 2023-05-15 06:00:32 / 10

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