The Prayer God Always Answers

The Prayer God Always Answers

Message preached by Barbara Shafer at Advocate Condell Medical Center on June 29, 2014

There’s a prayer that God always hears and God always answers.  Did you know that?

In a hospital context, it’s always tricky to talk about how God answers prayers and whether He does or not.  Sometimes answers to prayer don’t look—at first blush—like what we’ve prayed for.  I have a recent experience with that myself as God moves SeminaryGal in a somewhat new direction.  Oh, the sermons will still be on even if we’re not doing them at 9 am here at Condell Medical Center.

When God answers prayers in so many ways we don’t expect, we can become confused, cynical, angry, or bitter.  We can be cast into doubt, distress, and discouragement.  Maybe this is you:

  • We pray for healing and get another piece of bad news.
  • We pray for peace and yet another unsettling thing happens.
  • We pray for comfort and yet still feel quite alone in our misery.
  • We take a licking and keep on ticking only to find another licking lurking around the next corner.

It can drive us to doubt whether God hears our prayers at all.  Whether God is even real.  Whether He’s actually as good as His Bible proclaims.  And whether He is truly able to make a difference in anyone’s life, let alone ours.

He can seem like a distant God who is too busy with other people’s problems or doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone’s problems while He stands up there in heaven practicing throwing lightning bolts.

In the context of stormy skies and persistent clouds that all they do is rain, God gives us the most wonderful thing:

 rainbow fieldA rainbow!

His bow in the sky reminds Him and us that our God is faithful. 
And His faithfulness is demonstrated best against a dark backdrop. 
It’s demonstrated in His Word proclaiming that there is a prayer that God always hears and God always answers: 
It’s the prayer of repentance, of asking forgiveness, and of seeking His salvation.

This is the prayer that God ALWAYS answers.  It doesn’t matter if you grew up in a Christian home, in a Jewish home, in a Muslim home, in a Buddhist home, even in the home of God-haters, atheists or agnostics.  None of that matters to whether God will answer the prayer of the repentant.  And we’ve already heard that promise stated in our readings this morning.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But who is Everyone?  Everyone willing to repent and call on the name of the LORD.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  It actually appears in Scripture three different times.  It’s in the prophet Joel 2:32  (in the Jewish Tanakh it’s numbered as Joel 3:5), the Tanakh being Scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament not because it’s old-fashioned or outdated.  But because they are Ancient Words that stand true, still today.  It also appears in the Christian New Testament (in Acts 2:21 and in Romans 10:13) , called New not because it replaced the old, but because it puts a new frame around the existing picture, lovingly restored by God’s hand so that the full colors shine just a bit differently.  It’s a new view of the same truth of God’s love for all of us.

It’s a new perspective on sin and salvation…in the Old Testament just a hope for the future, but now it’s new reality possible for us here and now, possible only because Jesus Christ died, and was victorious over both sin and death.  The victory is not future only, the salvation is not just a hope—it’s now.  And it’s new and it’s today.

invitationEveryone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.


That is the beautiful inclusive part of the invitation to eternal life.

Everyone is extended an invitation.

It’s wide open.

* * *

But there’s a catch:

Not everyone will RSVP.

It’s not for those who don’t or won’t call upon Him and it doesn’t involve calling on anyone else’s name.

Calling on the name of Barb will do you no good whatsoever.  It won’t do me any good either.  Calling on the name of the President, the Prime Minister, the dog catcher, Ronald McDonald or the Board of Directors does us no good…because it’s not a solution to the REAL problem.

Just as someone might say they’re going to treat their breast cancer with fluoride toothpaste or green tea and organic vegetables… treatment possibilities… it won’t cure the problem.  That’s why when I had breast cancer I had surgery and medical treatments that were tested and approved by doctors and medical researchers.  I wanted something that was going to be a solution to the problem, not just one of many possibilities that don’t work.  I have been in remission for a decade now and I praise God for helpful treatments and modern medicine: Solutions to the earthly problem of cancer.

Our spiritual problem is deeper than many people want to consider and while there are a wide array of things people try, there’s only one effective treatment.

If the faith based system you’re counting on doesn’t address the real problem (sin)…and its consequences (mortality), then it’s a good idea to stop and assess whether it will make a difference for your future.

coexist lie

COEXIST may look good on a bumper sticker until the car’s rubber meets the road of life and we realize the pretty little lie of coexisting.  The lie that a world full of sinners could somehow ever achieve a lasting peace, a sinless existence, or keep us from going dust-to-dust and meeting our Maker.  We can only put on a show for so long until real colors pop up.  Sin rears its head in even one person’s life and another sinner responds.  It becomes a chain reaction:  People fight and argue.  People become bitter and angry.  People politicize everything and try to exert power and control over other people.  People kill and people die.  Even within the same religion!  Look at Northern Ireland where Protestants and Catholics–in a largely politicized fight that bears no resemblance to Christianity–have been duking it out since the late 1960s and Iraq in the news right now and the Sunnis and Shiites and the Kurds, again political factions all sharing the same religion.

The truth is that COEXIST can’t exist because it doesn’t address the REAL problem. 

Why?  Because we’re still a bunch of sinners—every last one of us carries the spiritual genetic defect of sin.  It’s what we are—sinners!—not because that’s how God designed us, but it’s how sin has mutated us.

Is there no hope for any of us, then? 

Oh yes.  There’s hope!

Christianity—genuine biblical Christianity—addresses both sin and its consequences and it does this by LOVE.  Christians aren’t narrow minded zealots for pointing this out any more than a doctor is a narrow minded zealot for saying that fluoride toothpaste isn’t a cure for breast cancer.  Christians point to Scripture and to the empty tomb as evidence that LOVE is the answer and that Christianity—genuine biblical Christianity–demonstrates LOVE in the way it addresses sin, sin’s consequence of death, and gives us true hope for a real future.

The Bible tells us that LOVE is the answer and now, LOVE is what Christians are to DO because of what Christ DID for us!

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Colossians 2:11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

cross and nailsJesus nailed it! 
The problem is sin. 

* * *

The consequence of that problem is death. 

* * *

And the solution? 
Only the death of a sinless one can change all that. 
That’s what Christianity is all about. 

The empty tomb is there to prove that Jesus is the answer.  He rose victorious over death—something no one else has ever done!  He wants it to be that way for you, too!  Jesus is the solution.  Jesus is the way God has provided… so that YOUR prayer that God ALWAYS answers (repentance, forgiveness, salvation!) GETS ANSWERED.

And it applies to everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord… but also specifically to you calling on His Name.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Jesus says, in John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Do you want eternal life?  Do you want to be saved?  Do you want that forever healing to the worst disease known to man:  sin?  Sin is always fatal.  But God has provided His Son Jesus so that you don’t have to be without diagnosis and effective treatment.  Jesus is the Answer!

The Bible says in, John 3:16-17,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

How?  By conquering both sin and death at the Cross.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Everyone.  Christ died for everyone who is willing to repent, return to God, pray to Him and ask for His forgiveness in order to be cured of both sin and its consequences.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The Name of the Lord is our strong tower, Scripture says, the righteous run into it and they are safe!  Call on His Name!  The Name that is above all names.  The Name before whom every knee will someday bow.  He is the answer and has all the power in the universe to save you.

Saved to eternal life, not to an eternal CO-existence of sin and an endless dying.  Jesus conquered sin and death and therefore all that’s left for the one who RSVPs–who calls on the Name of the LORD is:

  • life,
  • freedom,
  • hope,
  • and being in the presence of God who loved you so much that He’d pay the price for what He didn’t do so that His image bearers—you and me—wouldn’t endure an endless dying.  We’d have life.  True life!

Do you want to be cured of the disease called sin?  Pray the prayer that God always answers.  It can go like this as you make this prayer your own:

Gracious God and Father, Lord of all creation.  You created everything in the universe and You know everything about us.  We praise You for being mighty and for being loving toward us.  I come to You and agree with what You already know about me.  I am a sinner.  I’ve done wrong things.  I’ve told lies and hurt other people.  You know all the wrong things I’ve done.  I’m sorry for all these sins I have committed.  I’m sorry for the ways I have rebelled against You.  I come to You and want to fully return to You this day.  I come, not because of what I deserve, but because of what Jesus did for me.  I ask, dear LORD, that You would forgive me for all these things I have done–even things I don’t know or don’t remember I’ve done.  I thank You, Father, that You are loving and forgiving and that Your promises are reliable and true.  I thank You that there’s a prayer You always answer.  So I pray this prayer today…and ask that You will hear and save me to eternal life with You.  I thank you for Jesus and I thank You for Your love.  In the mighty Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen


Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on July 1, 2014

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit


  1. by LeAnn

    On July 8, 2014

    Thank you for this powerful and resounding message, Barbara.
    Missing you and our ministry together 🙁

  2. by seminarygal

    On July 8, 2014

    Bless you, LeAnn! God is at work. He’s answering prayers and I know we’re in the center of what He’s doing. I miss working with you, too, but I have a wonderful feeling that we’re just getting started! Be encouraged! When God is in it, it’s always good! 🙂

Leave a Reply