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PRAYING AFTER GOD ANSWERS

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, July 6, 2019

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).


The Bible tells us to pray before God answers. It tells us to pray until God answers. The Bible teaches us to pray until the answer comes. Then Jesus tells us to give thanks to Him after He answers our prayers! When Jesus taught His Disciples to pray, He told about a man asking his friend for three loaves. He kept asking until his friend gave him what he asked for. Christ said, “because of his importunity [his persistence, asking again and again] he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:8).

Tonight I want to talk about another side of prayer. I will speak about praying after God has answered you. Our text says,

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

This is praying after God answers. How do we know it is after the answer and not before? Because the verse says, “with thanksgiving.” What is there to thank God for? You thank God for His goodness in answering your prayer in the past. This thanksgiving is a part of the next prayer. The verse says, “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” “Thanksgiving” looks back to God’s answers and blessings in the past. But the verse says “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” This looks forward to the future. How do you go on to the next prayer? With supplication – with begging and humility and energy, often with fasting, just as you prayed before, when God gave you the answer! Tonight I want to bring out two points about praying after God answers.

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I. First, the sin of prayerlessness with ingratitude and pride.

This happens again and again after God sends a blessing. Many people are filled with ingratitude and pride. They give no thanks to God. That is called “ingratitude.” They are not humble. They forget about God. Instead, they take the credit for themselves! This is called “pride.”

God warned Israel about ingratitude and pride. Moses told them not to forget God after they took the land. He said,

“Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

Then God warned them about taking credit for the blessing. First, He said,

“[If] thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17).

Then God gave the warning,

“And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish” (Deuteronomy 8:19).

That’s exactly what happened. God gave them the Promised Land, but they forgot Him. They forgot that it was God who gave them the land. They worshipped false gods. They turned against God, and God turned against them. God judged them and sent them into exile in Babylon. The Bible says,

“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).

In the time of Joshua the people entered the land of Israel. They defeated one army after the other. They took one city after another. There was a group of heathen called the Gibeonites. They saw what Israel had done. They didn’t want to be destroyed. So they made up a trick. They pretended they didn’t live there. They said they had come from far away, so they weren’t part of the nations God had commanded to be killed. They put on old clothes and wore old shoes. They took dry and moldy bread. They said they had come from a far country. What did the Jewish people do? The Bible says,

“The men took of their victuals [food], and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them” (Joshua 9:14, 15).

They “asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.” Nobody prayed. There is no record that even Joshua prayed. And so they fell for the trick. They made a treaty with the Gibeonites and let them live. They were tricked because they did not pray. They trusted their own minds. There is no record that Joshua himself prayed. He was a prophet. God used him to bring the people into the land. But Joshua was tricked. This shows that even good Christians can be deceived if they forget to pray.

What has this got to do with us? Prayerlessness has hurt us again and again. God blesses us. We take it for granted and think the blessing will come again by itself. We forget to pray. Sometimes we would have a rush of visitors. Sometimes I thought, “Now we are in the good times. The problem is solved. Now the machine will run by itself.” But it didn’t.

A few years ago we had a “touch of revival.” Again and again the people thought, “God is here now. Now we have revival. Now it will go on. We don’t need to pray like we did. All we need to do is come to the meeting and see what happens.” But the next night God was not present. Nothing happened. We forgot to pray after God answered.

This is a warning to you now! God has given us the building in the San Gabriel Valley. We prayed for it, and God gave it to us! Thanks be to God! But beware lest you think, “That part is done. The rest is easy. The rest will happen. We don’t have to pray like we did before. Sure, we’ll pray, but we won’t pray with quite the edge, in quite the way we prayed before.” If you think that way, the rest will NOT happen and we will not be able to move! It will all be for nothing. Remember, we have to sell this building to get the money to buy the new one! We need to pray as much as ever! If you say, “We’re buying the new building now! That’s great!” and forget to pray, or pray just a little, then God’s blessing can go away. In fact, God can stand against us if we forget Him. The Bible says,

God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).

Turn from prayerlessness and pray! And this brings me to the next point.

II. Second, the virtue of supplication with thankfulness and humility.

What is the right thing to do? The Bible says,

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

Again, the Bible says,

“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).

Do you want God’s grace? Then go back to prayer with the same attitude of humility and supplication – even with fasting – as you did before. Ask for the next request just as you asked before. Remember, if you become confident, and don’t pray as hard or as much, you won’t get the same result!

Is this the right thing to do? Yes! Many godly men in the Bible prayed with humility and supplication – after God answered them.

One day Jerusalem was surrounded by a huge army from Assyria. Their general told the people to surrender. That army had conquered many other countries. Then the general mocked the God of Israel. He said that God couldn’t save the city, because He was no better than the false gods of other nations.

The king in Jerusalem was named Hezekiah. The Bible says,

“[When] king Hezekiah heard it...he [tore] his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (II Kings 19:1).

Hezekiah humbled himself. He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He went into the Temple to pray. God answered his prayer. God destroyed the enemy army and saved the city.

Now listen carefully. When this happened, Hezekiah was 38 years old. He had been king for 13 years. Was this the first time he went to the Temple? Was this the first time he ever prayed? Was this prayer something he did once in his life – never before and never again? No! Hezekiah was a righteous man, a converted man. The Bible says, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (II Kings 18:3). Hezekiah had prayed many times before. God had answered him many times. His prayer in the Temple was not his first. This was a “return” prayer. He returned to sackcloth and prayer after God had answered him in the past! This was simply the way he prayed. Serious prayer was normal for Hezekiah. It was the practice of his life.

A hundred years later Israel was taken captive to Babylonia for their sin. They were there for seventy years, as the Bible said. A boy named Daniel was taken captive with them. God was with him. He became an important man in the government. One day the king of Babylon forbade people to pray to any God – only to the king himself. Daniel trusted the true God and prayed anyway, with supplication. He didn’t care if people heard him. The Bible says,

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God” (Daniel 6:10, 11).

Daniel prayed with thanksgiving and supplication “as he did aforetime.” This was the way he always prayed. He took God seriously. He took prayer seriously. Daniel prayed that day at the risk of his life. He knew he might die for his prayer. Daniel was arrested and thrown into a den of lions. But God saved his life.

After God saved his life, did Daniel forget to pray again? Did he pray in a mechanical way, just saying words but not really expecting an answer? No, serious prayer was a part of Daniel’s life. He served God in Babylon until the seventy years were over. Then Daniel wrote,

“I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).

Did Daniel pray this way only once in his life, never before and never again? Of course not. Serious prayer was normal for him. It was part of his life.

Daniel was an old man when he prayed this! He was taken captive as a boy, and spent 70 years in exile. He was over 80 years old when he prayed this. Of course he had prayed many times over 70 years, and God had answered him.

Daniel didn’t go back to prayerlessness. Daniel returned to humility, prayer and supplication, fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes! That was the way he prayed when he needed something!

Daniel is a picture of the mature, grown-up Christian. A grown-up Christian thanks God for His answer, and then keeps on in prayer, supplication and fasting. Serious prayer is a part of his life.

What about you? Will you remember to pray? Will you go back to prayer and fasting? Yes, thank God for His answer, and then return to prayer and fasting. There is still much to do – selling this building, moving to the new one, and then building up the new church. There is a long way to go. As God said to Joshua, “there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1).

Once again, “in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Make real prayer a part of your life. Pray just as you did before. Return to God with prayer and fasting. Only then will God stay with us and answer our prayers. Return in prayer, and pray more than ever! Amen.

But some of you need to trust Christ. Only Christ can save you from judgment. Only Christ can cleanse you from all sin with His Blood, shed on the Cross. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Christ, come and stand here at the front while we sing number 5, “Just As I Am.”

Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy Blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not, To rid my soul of sin’s dark blot,
To Thee whose Blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
   (“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871, altered by the Pastor).


THE OUTLINE OF

PRAYING AFTER GOD ANSWERS

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

(Luke 11:8)

I.   First, the sin of prayerlessness with ingratitude and pride,
Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17, 19; I Peter 5:5; Joshua 9:14, 15.

II.  Second, the virtue of supplication with thankfulness and humility,
II Peter 5:5; II Kings 19:1; 18:3; Daniel 6:10, 11; 9:3;
Joshua 13.1.