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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Key to Answered Prayer

Psalm 37:4; answered prayer, having God's thoughts and desires
God promises to fulfill our heart desires. 

But there's one critical condition: First we must delight ourselves in Him. 

"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 NLT

If we're looking to fulfill selfish desires, we should memorize 1 Timothy 6:9-10, not Psalm 37:4. Because "some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows." 

If we think we can use prayer to get our way, we'll always be disappointed. James 4:3 says God doesn't answer selfish prayers.

But when we delight ourselves in the Lord--i.e. find our happiness in the Lord, listen to and obey Him, enjoy and treasure our relationship with Him above all else--then we no longer want to please ourselves. 

We want to please God. 

We begin to think His thoughts ... and have His desires. 

And that is the real key to answered prayer (1 John 5:14-15).

Additional Study
Note the selfish delights mentioned in the passage below. If any of these distract you from God's purposes in your life, take time to pray about them. 

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 

Another comfort in our prayer life is this: God sees hearts and answers hearts, not just spoken prayers: Romans 8:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 3:15a.

Bible Study Insights
Insights from last week's study "Does God Answer Stupid Prayers?" are in blue text below. 

1. What are the conditions for answered prayer according to these passages?

1 John 3:21-22: Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.

When we are keeping Christ's commands and seeking to please Him, our hearts are right with Him and we are more likely to understand and pray for His will in our lives.

1 John 5:14-15: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 

As last week's devotion explained, God only answers prayers that are according to His will.

God planned to bless the Israelites if they made faithful choices and punish them if they made rebellious choices. So his will was to answer their rebellious prayers for meat and a king (see last week's study). But it's important to remember that they had been repeatedly rebellious. This is not the same as praying the "wrong" thing out of ignorance or confusion. 

2. What can we learn about prayer from these warnings?

James 4:2-3: You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Our motives in prayer are incredibly important. These verses definitely refute the prosperity gospel--we aren't supposed to focus on our pleasures, but on God's will. God still blesses us with pleasure, but He does so as He sees fit.

1 Peter 4:7: The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.

Our goal is to be alert so we can pray for the things God desires. Prayer is not for fulfilling our pleasures, but for fulfilling God's purposes.

Copyright, Gail Burton Purath, 2014, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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