TRINITY HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH
25th September, 2022
SERMON TITLE: How to Enjoy Answered Prayers (II)
SERMON TEXT: James 4:1 – 5
PREACHER: Reverend Ebenezer Olawuyi
After marriage, every couple desires to have a child. We got married about 30 years ago, and our desire was to have a child immediately. True to it, about a year after our marriage, my wife became pregnant of a set of twins but lo and behold, the twins disappeared and our hearts were broken and torn. What next? After that, it was no longer forthcoming, and I went back to God. I was in Lagos then, living in Victoria Island, I went back to God and took God’s promises, checked through the Scriptures about what God said and spent my time praying and praising Him that God can never fail. Men may fail but God won’t fail. I had enough reasons theoretically to doubt His Word, because at that time… you know what happens, fear will begin to rise, the Devil will begin to tell you different reasons why it cannot happen to you, why you cannot go ahead but the Word of God was the assurance in my heart, I was building my faith with the Word of God. One of the days when I was crying and sobbing in front of the Lord, praying, the Lord spoke to me in Yoruba Language and I don’t read Yoruba Bible. He said, “He has left a precious stone in Zion and anyone who trust in it will never be put to shame”, that Word was fire in my bones and true to it, that month, the pregnancy came and after nine months, a baby was born and he was called ‘Iyebiye’.
I introduce to you the God who answers prayers, who has never been a disappointment to anyone. The Scripture says, “Hitherto, you have not received because you have not asked. Ask and you will receive, that your joy will be full.” Whatever your burden is this morning, I don’t want you to give up on God, probably you have asked once and it appears as if the answer did not come, don’t give up on God. He has not called us in vain and has not told the house of Jacob to seek Him in vain. He says He doesn’t speak in the dark nor in the secret place, He is the one who decrees the things that are right and true. Don’t give up on Him.
Last week, we began by sharing with you in the second service the things you need to do to enjoy answered prayers. In the first service, we could not touch it because the Holy Spirit moved us in a way we never planned. I hope you have your belt on so that I can combine both last week’s message meant for the first service with today’s.
How to Enjoy Answered Prayers
- The first thing you’ve got to do is to believe that God rewards and answers prayers (Heb. 11:6). Anyone who comes to the Lord must believe… you must believe it, don’t come to the Lord without knowing and believing that God hears prayers. Come with the assurance that God hears prayers. You have God giving us assurance in different parts of the Scripture that He will hear. He says, “Call upon me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you knoweth not.” He says, “Before you call, I will answer you, while you are still speaking, I hear you”. So, you don’t come to God by just coming religiously, you must come with the assurance that God hears prayers.
- Stop Fretting. Stop living in worry, stop being anxious; that was one of the things we overcame when we were waiting at that time as we had enough reasons to be anxious, worried, and disturbed. Stop being anxious. You can’t fret and expect to receive anything from God (Phil. 4:6). Stop getting worried. Some people are worriers, they have anointing for worrying. The Bible says, do you think you can even add a cubit to your height by being worried? No, you can’t. I told you my story sometimes ago when I was dying because of worrying. I was worrying after investing so much and lost all; we bought a vehicle and the money was there and we had to pay back here and there. I was dried up, until I made up my mind that no, I am not going to die. You know, God will not answer the prayers of worry. You can’t be worrying and be praying. Where anxiety begins, faith ends; where faith begins, anxiety disappears, the two of them cannot cohabit. You must stop worrying. Choose to stop worrying and trust in God that He is able and can take care of the matter (Psalms 37:7). Don’t fret, calm down, God is in control, Hallelujah! You’ve got to say it to yourself regularly, “Come on, calm down, God is in charge!”
- Establish a Relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us to pray, that when we pray, we say, “Our Father who art in Heaven”, not “Our God who art in Heaven”. You have a God in heaven, but God wants to deal with you based on the basis of relationship. God is a God to everybody but God is not a Father to everybody. So, you’ve got to, it’s not automatic… you’ve got to enter a relationship and Jesus is the one who brings you into that relationship. As many as receives Him and believes in Him, He gives the right to become the Sons of God. He’s the accredited Son. The one that God tells, “Oh, anyone you bring to me, I am going to accept.” You can’t be a member of God’s family without Jesus, that’s why the Bible says in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” We have not received again the Spirit of bondage to fear. God gives you the right and says, “Take, even though you were not born physically into the family, I give you the right.” The law of adoption says, “The adopted son has equal rights with the biological son.” If you maltreat the adopted son, he can sue you, that’s why adoption process is cumbersome. Once you have made up your mind to adopt someone, he must have the same right with your biological son. So, God adopted us into His family when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. Friends, you cannot start without having a relationship with Him. You’ve got to have a relationship with Him so that He can be your father. You hear some people praying, “O God, your servants are here. We know we are all sinners, hear the prayers of your servant”. No! you come to your father with boldness, you don’t quake in the presence of your biological father. If there is a good relationship between you and your son, your son can’t quake except when you become an Idi-Amin of your family and your son runs away immediately he hears the horn of your car. If you have a good relationship with your son, he comes to you, saying, “Daddy, I need this… Daddy can I have this?” You must have a relationship and the relationship should not just be whenever you want something from Him. Establish a relationship with your father (Ruth 11:2, John 15:7).
- You must Pray according to God’s Will. It is not your intellectual thought nor what you think or feel that is right, you’ve got to find out what God’s will is for that matter. The Bible says in 1 John 5:14, “If you ask anything according to His will, you know He hears you.…” So, one thing you’ve got to do before you begin to pray is ask, “God, what is your will?”. “If God says it, I believe it and I receive it.” As long as God has said it, it is settled; consider it done. So, you’ve got to find out what is God’s will for the matter. You can’t be praying, saying, “God, if it is your will to heal me; if it is your will to deliver me out of this trouble,” no! It is not a prayer of consecration, so you need to be definite. When Jesus was praying a prayer of consecration, He said, “Lord, if it is your will,” that’s like, “God, I surrender to you, whatever you want me to do, I give myself to you, have your way in my life, whatever you want to do to me, do to me.” But, you don’t pray that way for, “Lord, I need my sight, I need you to heal me; I need money, I am financially down and need some money to meet this need.” You’ve got to be specific and know what is God’s will for you so that you can act confidently. In Acts 4:24 – 26, the disciples discovered the will of God when they threatened them not to speak in the name of the Lord. They gathered together and told God that the people have gathered against His Son and not against them and that He should stretch forth His hands and perform signs and wonders in the name of His Son. The Bible says in verse 31 what happened when they prayed that prayer – “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Immediately, the Lord showed up. You’ve got to find out what the will of God is if you want to pray.
- Be Fruitful. Those of you who have businesses and even in your family, you don’t joke with someone who adds value to your life, it’s just normal. If you have a sales girl in your shop and since she gets there, customers have been coming to that shop because of her relationship with them and thus your profit levels have increased. Maybe you have been struggling with ₦5000 profit per month but since she came in, you get ₦15,000, that’s 200% increase, you don’t joke with such. However, if you have a sales girl and you’ve been receiving ₦5,000 per month but by the time she gets there, you start receiving ₦4000, customers have been complaining about her and people are not coming to your shop again. The next time she says, “Boss, I need advanced salary”, what will you do? When you are fruitful, you become precious in the sight of the Lord. John 15:16 says, that’s our anchor scripture for operation 1-1-1-4, “You did not choose me but I chose you that you go and bear fruit and that your fruit may abide.” Go and bear fruit.
Corrie ten Boom, the author of Modern Missions, and a missionary in Netherlands for so many years who laid her life for the people of Netherlands, made this statement, “Are you expecting great things from God, attempt great things for Him.” Just as we heard this morning, Jesus sent disciples to go ahead of him. After ministering, they still had some work to do in the next town. The disciples went ahead to prepare the place for Him but what did He do to the multitudes, He sent them away because they are not interested in what He was teaching. For example, for this service today, some things were put in to make the service successful. Some cleaned this place, some put on the generator, some arranged the chairs and some people prayed for the service. When we finish this service, we will begin to think of the next service, anniversary, Unusual Encounter but you know what the multitudes do, they just come in, enjoy the blessings and say, “Goodbye, see you next service”. But the disciples say, “We just enjoyed this service, what do we do for the next service?” Even when they are not available, their hearts are together with us, that’s a disciple. They follow what is happening and even follow online, saying, “What can they contribute?” I know a woman who will say, “Although I cannot be there, I want to play my part” – that’s a disciple. Distance is not a barrier to a disciple. Do you know there are disciples who have relocated, no longer here, but are more in touch with the system than those who are here. Some are staying hundreds and thousands of miles away but they know all what is happening, they know and pray along – disciples. If you are fruitful, then you can tell God that you are not a waster of His Grace and that you need more grace. That’s why the Bible says, “Therefore He gives more grace.” He doesn’t give more grace to wasters of grace, He gives it to people who have used the grace and want more. If you want to enjoy answered prayers, be fruitful and think about what touches the heart of God. Since we have been talking about Operation 1-1-1-4, a lot of people have not even spoken to somebody about Christ, they have not even sown a seed of Christ in a person. You have to sow to get result. Some have not even talked to somebody and are not bothered about what moves God. You know what, it’s just normal, He can’t be bothered about what moves you. There are people that when they come, God says, “He has come, what does He need, Angel Michael please attend to him quickly”, and there are people who when they come, God asks, “Who is it?” Because they only call when they have trouble and heaven does not know their voice because it is strange. I was giving an illustration and said, let’s say we are all here now and my wife comes in without my knowledge, if I should say, “Praise the Lord!” And people respond, immediately I hear her voice, I will know she is there. I have identified her voice and in the multitude, I will know it. But you don’t talk with someone, how do you know their voice? You don’t relate with someone, how will you know him/her? Friends, be fruitful, there is reward in fruitfulness so that you can enjoy answered prayers and come to the Lord with confidence to ask.
- Ask in Faith. James 1:7 – 8 says, “For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Don’t doubt. Come to God with faith. We talked about the difference between hope and faith. A lot of people pray in hope but not in faith. Hope is “God, I know you will do it”, that is the future tense, faith is not future, faith is Now. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now, faith is the substance…” That means you have brought that which you hope for to now, faith is bringing the future to now. “Oh, Lord, I know you will answer my prayer,” or after praying a session of prayer, you’ve sweated and cried in the presence of the Lord and you are rounding up, then you say, “God, we know you will hear us”, oh my God! You just poured water to all that you’ve said. The scripture says in Mark 11:24, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Believe that you receive. “How do I believe after praying?” Say, “Father, thank you because you have heard me. Thank you because you have given me… I receive with thanksgiving; I may not see it, it is my belief that brings about the manifestation. Thank you, because I know I am healed, you’ve healed me and I receive my healing. I may still have some feelings in my body, but I believe it and begin to thank you.” That’s why the scripture says, “Be careful for nothing, but with prayer and thanksgiving…” sandwich it with thanksgiving. Ask in faith. I hope you know God does not answer the prayer of fear, He answers the prayer of faith. It is the prayer of faith that heals the sick, not the prayer of fear (James 5:14-16), it means that there is a prayer of fear. Pray a prayer of faith. He that comes to God must believe that He is and He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him. Not a prayer of fear, not a prayer of worry, it’s the prayer of faith that heals the sick. Say after me: “From today, I will pray the prayer of faith, not the prayer of fear.”
- Forgive your Offenders. Matthew 6:12, 18:35 and in our Lord’s prayer, “…and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespassed against us.” The adversary can stop you on the way if you do not forgive. You’ve got to learn to forgive, if you don’t, you will hinder your prayers. Don’t let anyone stop you, release, forgive, it’s for your good. Friends, don’t waste your energy praying if you decide not to keep the conditions of prayer. Why should you waste your time fasting, going from mountain to mountain and you think you can bribe God when you refuse to keep His conditions? Don’t waste your time because God won’t hear it, if not, He will violate His principles. If there are people you are still bitter against and you want to enjoy answered prayers, for your own good, release them, if not, you will have prayer failures. You can’t come to God in your own terms but in His own terms. So, release them. You see people going around saying they can’t end a fight, they still have hurt and are bitter in their hearts… release them!
- Be Thankful to God. I have seen this work mightily in my own life. I can share numerous testimonies of this. Be thankful and praise Him. Psalms 100:1-4 says, “Be thankful and bless His name.” So many of us are too much in a hurry to pour our hearts to God; spend more time to praise Him. Spend time to sing and declare… you can study about God’s praise, take your book and begin to write vocabularies, prepare and practice vocabularies that you will use in His praise. When you praise Him, you see Him working in your life. In 2 Chronicles 20, three nations came against Judah. God told Jehoshaphat not to get himself troubled, the battle is not his, but the Lord’s. The prophet told him to calm down and the next thing, Jehoshaphat asked singers to be gotten, not soldiers, skilled men who will sing great praise to the Lord and sing of His glory. As they began to sing, in verse 22, “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.” That was the weapon they used – weapon of praise and weapon of thanksgiving. Don’t just say it, practice it. I stand to tell you that God works wonders when you do it. Paul and Silas were locked in the prison. The Bible says, “And Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns.” Learn to praise Him and sing praises to Him and you’ll see God working wonders in your life.
- Don’t Come to God in your Self-Righteousness. You know the story of the publican and the Pharisee. One came and said, “Lord, you know I am not like these guys who don’t pay their tithes, not like these guys who steal and fornicate, Lord, you know I am righteous.” He came to God with his self-righteousness, meaning that he could qualify before God because of what he has done. But the other could not even lift up his head, confessing his sins and praying, the Bible says, “He went more justified than the other.” Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Nobody can ever come to the presence of God qualified and justified by his own righteousness, by what he has done. You must come on a platter of God’s grace and Christ’s righteousness.
Friends, good that you have kept yourself from messing around like the other ladies, good that you have kept yourself from messing around like the other boys, but be careful, don’t develop a holier-than-thou attitude for God. Don’t come with that confidence that, “God, you know me, I didn’t do that, I am not like them.” God will shut you out because you can never be justified. Those righteousness are like dirty rags before the Lord. You must come to Him wearing the garment of Christ’s righteousness – that’s the only way God will look at you. That’s why the Scripture says, “Righteousness is a gift.” Everyone, say it after me: “Righteousness is a gift. I dare not come before the presence of the Lord wearing my own righteousness but always the righteousness of Christ.” So, come with that confidence that you are acceptable in His presence, not because of what you have done but because of what He has done, for by the grace of God we’ve been saved through faith and not of ourselves but the gift of God, lest any man should boast, it’s the complete gift of God. Is someone saying, “So, I can live a careless life and still come to the presence of God because I am not coming in my own righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ?” Hear this: live the life of righteousness, in other words, don’t live a habitual sinful life. 1 John 3:9, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin”, but you may ask if it is the reality. Sometimes we make mistakes and fall into sin and sometimes, what we do not regard as sin, the Lord may regard it as sin. I want to tell you what the Scripture says, the difference between this kind of person and the one who is a sinner. An engineer practices engineering, a teacher practices teaching, a doctor practices doctoring, a housewife practices housewifery, a singer practices singing, a drummer practices drumming and a sinner practices sinning. So, a righteous man practices righteousness. That is, what you do regularly becomes your life. A sinner does not feel any sense of remorse; he fornicates, tells lies, etc. – that’s someone who practices sin habitually, but a child of God mistakenly, by carelessness falls into sin, he is miserable because it is not part of his life. Take a sheep into a mud and the sheep leaves the mud, it is not comfortable and starts to clean his body with his mouth, but you want to punish a pig and put it in a mud and say, “I am going to deal with this pig,” what are you doing? You are helping the pig. It is excited and it will begin to pray for you because that is its life. So, if God has made you righteous, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21)… listen, you are not who you are, you might have been an armed robber, an adulterer, but the moment you came to Christ, He gave you a garment of righteousness and doesn’t look at you the way you used to be. So, you are the righteousness of God and if you are the righteousness of God, you’ve got to live righteously, if you are living contrarily, you are in a confusion.
The reason why a lot of people cannot pray confidently before the Lord is because they are guilty of the sin they committed last year, they come to the presence of the Lord and are still confessing that sin of five years ago. Friends, you can’t pray if you live in such condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” God inputted it to us and says, “Take the righteousness of God, you can’t live under condemnation.” If you sin by mistake, not habitually, immediately confess (1 John 1:9), don’t even wait until you get home. Maybe where you are now, you are having evil thoughts, just say, “God, I am sorry”, don’t even wait until you get home and once you have said it, forget it, God has forgiven you, He doesn’t remember. If you don’t live that life, Satan can hinder you. God hates righteous people who live habitually in sin, they are no longer righteous.
We need to emphasize that point for those who think once you are saved, you are saved forever. They say, “I am born again and can begin to live carelessly, I can no longer go to hell,” no! Because he who practices sin is a sinner and he who practices righteousness is a righteous person and no sinner shall inherit the kingdom of God. As you come before the Lord and want to pray, make sure you are not living habitually in sin. What is that sin you are struggling with? Ask God to help you end it, don’t continue habitually in sin and receive grace to live above it, don’t be a habitual sinner (Romans 6:14). The grace that pardons you and does not give you power over sin is a fake grace. Say it after me: The grace that pardons me and does not give me power over sin is fake grace, I don’t want that grace. Receive grace to live above sin, you can and it makes you acceptable before Him.
Lord, help me in the place of prayer. Pour grace of prayer upon me. Help me to meet your conditions for answered prayers. Help me to meet your conditions. Help me not to come to you in my own terms. Help me to believe in you that you are the rewarder of them who seek you. Help me not to fret and worry. When I come and have put my case before you, help me to walk in faith. Help me to walk in faith and to forgive everybody that has hurt me, help me to release them. Help me not to live in habitual sin: pornography, you keep going back to that site and you want God to hear you? Help me not to come to you in my own self-righteousness. Lord, help me to be fruitful, I don’t want to be a barren Christian, I want to give you joy, I want to add value to your kingdom. Make me a fruitful Christian.
Are you here this morning and have not received the righteousness which is of Christ? Are you here this morning and still come to God on the basis of self-righteousness? You have not received the righteousness which is a gift. You want to say, “Jesus I want you to put upon me the gift of righteousness and not live religiously in Church.” Put your left hand on your chest and say: Lord, I receive the gift of righteousness from you, I receive Jesus. I pray you forgive me and write my name in the book of life in Heaven. Lord, give me assurance of salvation today and that Jesus dwells in my heart by faith in the name of Jesus.