Andrew Fountain - Prayers that Get Answered


Full sermon notes - Prayers that Get Answered

Fervent Prayer

Fervent Prayer

Image source: Leila Darwish

Two things to remember from last week:

  1. God wants you to treat him like your closest friend, be totally honest and open with him.
    You can do that!
  2. Cause and effect. Prayer is just as much how this world works as the law of gravity.
    Your prayers this week will count

No food for breakfast

No food for breakfast

Image source:

Extract from George Muller—The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge

  • From Chapter 14: God will supply [pp. 166-168]

“I hate to bother you, Mr. Muller,” began the matron, “but... the children are all ready for breakfast and there is not a thing in the house to eat. What shall I tell them?”

George stood up. “I’ll take care of it."... [He] reached down and took [a little girl’s hand] hand. “Come and see what God will do,” he said. Inside they found three hundred children standing in neat rows behind their chairs. Set on the table in front of each child were a plate, a mug... and spoon. But there was no food whatsoever to be seen....

“...where’s the food?” Abigail asked in a whisper.

“God will supply,” George told her quietly, before he turned to address the children. “There’s not much time. I don’t want any of you to be late for school, so let us pray,” he announced.

As the children bowed their heads, George simply prayed, “Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat. Amen.”

George looked up and smiled at the children. “You may be seated,” he said. He had no idea at all where the food he had just prayed for would come from or how it would get to the orphanage. He just knew God would not fail the children. A thunderous din filled the room as three hundred chairs were scuffed across the wooden floor. Soon all three hundred children sat obediently in front of their empty plates.

No sooner had the noise in the dining room subsided than there was a knock at the door. George walked over and opened the door. In the doorway stood the baker, holding a huge tray of delicious-smelling bread.

“Mr. Muller,” began the baker, “I couldn’t sleep last night. I kept thinking that somehow you would  need bread this morning and that I was supposed to  get up and bake it for you. So I got up at two o’clock and made three batches for you. I hope you can use it.”

George smiled broadly. “God has blessed us through you this morning,” he said as he took the tray....

“There’s two more trays out in the cart,” said the baker. “I’ll fetch them.” Within minutes, the children were all eating freshly baked bread.

As they were enjoying it there was a second knock at the door. This time it was the milkman, who took off his hat and addressed George. "I’m needing a little help, of you could, sir. The wheel on my cart has been broken, right outside your establishment. I’ll have to lighten my load before I can fix it. There’s ten full cans of milk on it. Could you use them?" Then looking at the orphans sitting in neat rows, he added. "Free of charge, of course...."

A. Jesus our Prayer Example

Prayers that Get Answered

  • Is there anyone whose prayers have always been answered?
  • John 11: Raising of Lazarus
  1. [Martha:] “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
  2. So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
  3. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
  4. When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
  • Why?
    • Because he’s God?
  • But how can he be an example to us then?
  • Happened to meet President Obama’s daughter:
    • My dad’s very accessible you know, all you have to do is to text him and he’ll reply immediately.
  • But Jesus was our example, showing us how to live, and prayer was no exception.
  • The book of Hebrews presents one of the highest perspectived of Jesus in the New Testament
    • Yet it contains these curious verses:

Hebrews 5:7,8

  1. During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion.
  2. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered.
  • Jesus took on our humanity, including some aspects of learning
    • “I learned to drive a car this week”, “Oh, what kind of car were you driving?”, “Oh, no, I was learning from a book”
  • So God only heard his son because of his obedience?
    • The Queen of England is head of the military. Her grandsons have all spent time in military training.
      • What if they called her up “grandma, I don’t like the food. Can you ask them to get me some hamburgers?”
      • “If you can call me up at any time and get special conditions, it defeats any point in you being there.”

Jesus’ perfect obedience

  • John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
  • John 10:17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

B. Obedience and Answers to Prayer

  • In many places our obedience is linked to our prayers being answered:

1 John 5:14–15

  1. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
  2. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
  • The man born blind John 9:31–32
  1. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
  2. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.
  • Now we come to the main passage for today:

John 15:5–17

  1. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
  2. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
  3. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
  4. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
  5. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
  6. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
  7. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
  8. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  9. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
  10. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
  11. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
  12. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
  13. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

based on NET Bible

  • See how strong the connection is between obedience and our prayers being heard?
    • I want to throw it open for questions now:
    • Is it all about our performance: the ones that perform best, get heard
    • God grades us as Christians
      A+ gets heard every time
      D —why bother even to pray?
  • There is a very common idea that underneath amounts to this:

Vending Machine

Vending Machine

Image source: Sarah-Rose (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • God is a divine vending machine that if we put enough coins into, we get answers.
    • The main coins are earned by obedience. The more we obey, the more coins we get.
    • We get extra coins from fasting
    • If more people are praying, then there are a lot more coins
    • Some people carry more weight with God, so if you can get a “spiritual” person to pray for you, that will help a lot
  • But Rom 11:35:
    “Or who has ever given to God, that God needs to repay him?”
  • Prayers answered are NOT a reward for obedience
    • So why does Jesus tell us that if we do his commands, the Father hears our prayer?
    • I’m going to give you two answers, in order of how helpful I think they are
  • At the heart of the matter is 1 John 5:14.
    “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

1. Obedience trains us

  • “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” [1 John 5:14]
  • We don’t really know his will unless we are doing it (e.g. decision about cycle lanes)
  • Obedience trains us to understand God’s will
  • As we seek to live a life that is more and more God’s will, our prayers will come into alignment with his will and so they will get answered
  • Problem:
    • You can be totally obeying God
    • And your desires are totally aligned with his commandments
    • But what you pray, while generally being his will, is not his plan for this particular instance
  • Jesus did more than obey God’s commands—he knew exactly what God wanted at every point.

2. God reveals his heart to the Obedient

  • Obedience is a demonstration of love
  • Obedience is a demonstration of a willing heart
    “show me your will”

John 14:12–15

  1. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
  2. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
  3. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
  4. If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
  • Later: in Jesus’s name

John 14:20f

  1. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
  2. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
  3. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
  4. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
  5. but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
  • Revelation flows out of that loving obedience

John 5:19–20

  1. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
  2. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
  • John 15
  1. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
  2. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
  • What about all those references to “praying in Jesus’s name”?

In Jesus’s Name John 16:23–26

  1. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
  2. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
  3. “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.
  4. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf;
  • What does this mean?
    • It is not talking about simply tacking the words “in Jesus’ name” on the end of our prayers, as if that gives them some extra power.
    • Actually it amounts to the same thing as obeying him.
  • Praying according to Jesus’ agenda, with his stamp of approval
    • example of a letter of authority from a military commander
  • As we walk in obedience to God’s will as revealed in Scripture, we get revelation about his will in the current situation
    (To those that have, more will be given. +indwelling of Spirit)
    • We can then pray according to his will


  • God reveals his heart to the Obedient
    “I’m committed to following you Jesus, no matter what the cost”
  • Obedience is a demonstration of love
  • Obedience is a demonstration of a willing heart
    “show me your will”
  • This is how to get your prayers answered!
  • Note that obedience=love in many cases.
    • Following Jesus in self-denying love

Updated on 2014-08-17 by Andrew Fountain