Several weeks ago I invited all of you to join in a special summer prayer focus. I received 39 slips returned committing to pray at least 5 days a week. Let me review that with you this evening. (Go over the prayer list.) Now let me say that God has answered your prayers in many of these areas.
I believe that God answers prayers! On that most of us would certainly be in agreement. However, He is not subject to our whims and wishes. He is an Awesome, Almighty, and Sovereign God. He chooses to work when and where He so desires in accordance with His will. But He has called us to prayer. He desires us to enumerate our requests before Him. I believe that it pleases Him to hear us share our hearts with Him.
(Phil 4:6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Tonight I want us to consider some thoughts on prayer. In our text, Paul shared his burden and heart for the people of Rome. God answered Paul's prayer and brought him to Rome, but I seriously doubt that it was in the manner that Paul was expecting.
Read: Romans 1:9-16
I. Are We Ready for God to Answer Our Prayer His Way?
A. Look at Paul's request. v10
(Rom 1:10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
1. Paul said, "…by any means…"
2. "…By the will of God to come unto you."
3. Paul's desire was clear and his burden was great.
4. He wanted to get to Rome any way he could get there.
B. Note God's answer of Paul's request.
1. As a result of Paul's preaching the Gospel, the Jews sought to kill him.
2. He was arrested and beaten by the Roman authorities before it was known that he was a Roman citizen.
(Acts 22:25) And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
3. Realizing that he could not get a fair hearing among the Jews, Paul made an appeal to be heard before Caesar.
(Acts 25:11) For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
4. This meant he would have to go to Rome …but he would be going as a prisoner!
5. I am sure that Paul's plans for the trip to Rome wasn't the same as God's was.
6. But remember, Paul prayed, "…by any means…"
II. Are We Ready for God to Answer Our Prayer in His Time?
A. Paul was ready to go to Rome immediately.
1. Paul's burden was to go to Rome as soon as possible.
2. As a matter of fact, he had already tried to go early, but wasn't allowed. v13
3. Someone foolishly said, "If God doesn't open the door, kick it down!"
4. It just doesn't work that way with the Lord.
5. God has a plan and purpose for our lives, and it is all according to His time, not ours.
B. As always, God's timing was perfect.
1. Isn't it interesting how we speak of God?
2. He is eternal - timeless - yet we talk as if He is wearing a Rolex on both wrists.
3. When Adam fell in sin, God promised a redeemer… one who would crush the head of the Serpent.
4. When did that come about? Nearly 4000 years later.
(Gal 4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5. God is always right on time, according to His will and purpose.
6. Paul wanted to go to Rome right away, but God's plan was to send him four years later.
a. God brought Paul before Agrippa, Festus, Felix and ultimately Caesar.
b. Each time Paul preached the Gospel message through his testimony.
c. God has a plan and purpose for each of us…are we willing to wait upon Him?
III. Are We Ready for God to Answer Our Prayer in His Purpose?
A. Paul's purpose for going to Rome.
1. He was a preacher…he wanted to preach.
(Rom 1:15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
2. Perhaps he had envisioned preaching to large crowds of people in the great city of Rome.
3. I want you to know that is not a bad thing to want to do…
4. Oh, how I would love to be able to give the Gospel message to the kind of crowds that gather in various arenas around the country!
5. But that hasn't been God's purpose for me, and it wasn't His purpose for Paul either.
B. God purposed for Paul to write.
1. God used Paul to write what we call the 'Prison Epistles' while he was there in Rome.
2. These are extremely important N.T. books.
3. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
4. What a wealth of Truth we have because God used Paul to write…rather than preach.
C. Our prayers are often according to our will and purposes.
1. It isn't that our purposes are necessarily wrong or bad…
2. But much of the time they aren't in tune with God's purposes for us.
3. Paul's desire to preach to the folks at Rome wasn't a bad thing at all…it just wasn't what God intended.
4. Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done"
5. Can we pray the same? When we pray…