Does God Answer Prayer?

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Romans 15:30–33 NKJV
30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul begs the Romans to strive together with him in prayer. This comes right after Paul told them of his plans
Romans 15:22–29 NKJV
22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Paul very casually expressed his plans to the Romans. I will come to you on my way to Spain but first I must go to Jerusalem to deliver this gift to the poor believers their and then I’ll come see you.
However, this represents thousands of kilometres of travel in ancient times, The risk of travel in during this time was far greater than it is today.
With the many dangers and the prophecies that he would be arrested in Jerusalem knew the risk and yet he was confident. Why?
I believe that Paul trusted that he would get to Rome if it was the Lords will and so he didn’t seem to worry. But he did pray.
Not only did Paul pray but he urged the Christians in Rome to strive together with him in prayer.
Paul begged them to struggle together with him in prayer.

Paul’s Prayer Request

Romans 15:30–32 NKJV
30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.
Three things that Paul request prayer for
1. That he would be delivered from unbelievers in Judea
2. That his offering to the saints in Jerusalem would be accepted
3. The he would be able to come to Rome with joy by the will of God to be refreshed together with them
Not only was Paul praying these things but he calls for the Church in Rome to struggle together with him in prayer for these things.
This tells me that Paul believed that his prayers were more likely to be answered if
More Christians were praying
They prayed more diligently
What do the Scriptures teach us?
Matthew 18:19–20 NKJV
19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
James 5:16–18 NKJV
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Do you believe that your prayers are effective? Sometimes people will ask “can we change God’s mind with our prayer” But these are very different questions.
God is all knowing. That means He knows all things from the beginning to the end. Which means that God cannot change His mind at least in the way we think of it. God cannot receive any new information so He knows what we will do and He knows what He will do.
But it is a very different question to ask if our prayers are effective.
James 4:1–3 NKJV
1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Matthew 7:7–11 NKJV
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Did God Answer Paul’s Prayers?

Acts 21:17–20 (NKJV)
17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord.
So the prayer that his service would be acceptable to the saints in Jerusalem was answered. Although it doesn’t say explicitly that they received the gift it seems to be implied it that they gladly receieved them.
Acts 21:26–36 NLT
26 So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them. 27 The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, 28 yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.” 29 (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.) 30 The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately called out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34 Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn’t find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. 35 As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. 36 And the crowd followed behind, shouting, “Kill him, kill him!”
It would seem that Paul’s prayers to be protected in Judea and to be able to go to Rome were not answered. Did God not hear Paul’s prayers and the many prayers of the churches that Paul had traveled to and written to?
What happens when we do pray earnestly ad others struggle with us in our prayers and it seems that God it’s listening to us?
Firstly we must pray according to the will of God. The promise that we have is that He will hear our prayers if they are according to His will.
1 John 5:14–15 NKJV
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Secondly we must know that God’s answer to our prayer may not look as we imagine that it should.
Let’s consider Paul’s situation again. His prayer was that he would be protected from the unbelievers in Judea.
It was actually Paul arrest by the Romans that protected him from the Jews. They were about to kill him when the Romans soldiers arrived. We read later that the Jews plotted to kill him and again it was the Roman soldiers who protected Paul especially because they had learned that he was a Roman citizen.
What about Paul’s trip to Rome? After Paul remained in prison for 2 years he requested that his case be heard by Caesar which was a right of ever Roman citizen. They then escorted him Rome were he was under house arrest for 2 more years. He was able to have visitors and write letters and minister and fellowship with the Roman Christians during that time.
So in fact God answered all or Paul’s prayers just not in the way that we might have expected. So often we pray and we think that God has not granted out request or heard our prayer but time reveals that He brought everything to past perfectly according to His purpose.
God does answer our prayers so continue to struggle in prayer. Prayer is our opportunity to be involved in the divine and eternal work of God. Your prayers are effective. Don’t ever give up praying for that lost loved one or that wayward child, or sick friend or family member. God is able and willing to hear our prayers and do exceeding and abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
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