Revive Our Hearts Podcast

When Prayers Seem to Go Unanswered

Season:  Crying Out

Leslie Basham: Sometimes we have to go through difficult times longer than we'd like. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Gold has to go through the heat to be purified. You say, "That heat seems like a long time, and it seems so very hot." But God will not allow the intensity to be any greater or the duration to be any longer than is absolutely necessary to purge away all those impurities to where our hearts are just holy and humble before Him.

Leslie Basham: It's Monday, June 27th, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

The Bible tells us over and over about God answering prayer. We have stories in our own lives about the same thing. So why does it seem like sometimes God chooses not to come to our rescue? Why does He let us suffer? Nancy will address that today in a series called Crying Out.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over and over and over again in the Scripture we see this principle that when we cry out to the Lord, when we call upon the name of the Lord, He hears us. He answers us, and in His way and in His time He delivers us. Some of those promises are becoming very precious to me as God creates circumstances in my life that I can't handle, where I need to cry out to Him, temptations that I cannot be victorious over, guidance that is needed, people that I can't change, circumstances that I can't control that make me need the Lord.

As we've said repeatedly, "Anything that makes me need the Lord, anything that makes me cry out to the Lord, is a blessing." So rather than whining, we need to learn to give thanks for those things that make us cry out to the Lord.

We've been looking at Psalm chapter 50 verse 15. This is one of the key verses along this line where God says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble." We're so prone to turn other places, to look for so many other solutions. But God says simply, "Call upon Me. Cry out to Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me."

Now when your goal in life is that God would be glorified, then it will not matter to you so much that God changes your circumstances, but that God uses your circumstances to reveal Himself to you and to others. I think in the process of crying out, one of the things it does is to bring us to be more in tune with the heart of God to where we care more about God's name, God's reputation, and God's glory than we are about our circumstances being fixed and changed.

We have to become willing to let God deliver us in His way. God has an agenda that is so much greater and higher and more eternal than our agenda. On the break before this session, one of the women was telling me about someone she knew whose husband had left her, had run off with another woman, involved in all kinds of immorality, and left this woman just before she came to a Revive Our Hearts conference.

Here she came with her heart so heavy. Surely she was crying out to the Lord. Now it's been two years since that conference. The husband has not changed. He's still off in the immoral situation. Her circumstance has not changed, but the woman here was telling me that this woman's life was transformed at that conference right after her husband had left her.

Why? Because she learned how to cry out to the Lord, and in her distress. God has been meeting her. God has been transforming her life, conforming her to the image of Jesus and giving her resources and peace and grace to deal with that circumstance even though the husband has not returned.

So God has provided and is providing for her and for many in this room and for myself, deliverance even when He is not necessarily changing our circumstances. He's changing us through our circumstances. So the Scripture teaches when we're in trouble and we cry out to Him, God hears.

2 Samuel 22 verse 7: "In my distress I called upon the Lord and I cried out to my God. He heard my voice from His temple and my cry entered His ears."

Not only does He hear, but as we've been reminded, He delivers. Psalm 34 verse 17: "The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."

That's quite a promise. There's a condition there. It assumes that we're humbling ourselves, that our hearts are righteous and pure, and that we're crying out to Him. But when you're in the midst of that trial that seems like eternity, remember this promise.

Although your eyes may be filled with tears, lift your eyes and your voice up to the Lord and give thanks that you will be delivered. Don't let yourself get discouraged by what you're seeing here and now. Look beyond the here and now to the long-term of what God is going to do.

The verse comes to mind from Job chapter 23:8 which says that Job was in a situation. He said, "I look in front of me, I look to the left, I look behind me. I can't find God anywhere." But he says, "God knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (verse 10).

Remember that. God will be glorified; you will be sanctified. You will be conformed to the image of Christ. Gold has to go through the heat to be purified. You say, "That heat seems like a long time, and it seems so very hot." But God will not allow the intensity to be any greater or the duration to be any longer than is absolutely necessary to purge away all those impurities to where our hearts are just holy and humble before Him.

Now let me just move on to say that there are a few places in Scripture where it talks about a kind of cry that God does not hear. I think we need to point those out because it may be that if God's not hearing your cry, it's because you're in one of these situations. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this and there are others we could add, but let me just mention three.

There's one in Hosea chapter 7 where the Scripture says in verse 14, God says: "They do not cry out to me from their hearts, but they wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine. They go through all the religious ceremonies, but they turn away from me."

There's a kind of crying out to the Lord that's just wailing upon our beds. We're miserable in our circumstances and we want relief, but we're not really interested in God changing us or in God being glorified through our circumstances. It's not a sincere desire to turn to God, to repent of our waywardness. We just want God to fix our problems. God says, I'm not interested in fixing your problems as much as I am in changing you, in making you holy.

Are you willing to endure the price that will be required in order for that end result to come about?

There's a second kind of cry in Malachi chapter 2, verse 13. God says: "Another thing you do, you flood the Lord's altar with tears, you weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands and you ask, why?"

Why isn't God hearing? Why isn't God answering? The prophet says, "It's because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth because you have broken faith with her though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant."

God is saying, if you break a vow that you've made to the Lord, and here specifically the vow he has in mind is the marriage covenant, then you can cry all you want, but I'm not going to hear; I'm not going to heed your cry. You see sometimes our cry is really an excuse for disobedience. It's a cover up for we wanting to do our own thing. We want to have it our way. We want our pleasure, our convenience. Don't expect to live life your own way and then cry out to God and think God is going to come to your rescue and fix your circumstances.

God's saying, "You have broken your covenant." Go back and repair that damage. Go back and renew your vow. Go back and surrender yourself afresh to God and to that vow before you can expect Him to hear your cry.

Then one other verse that has been on my heart recently. Proverbs chapter 21 verse 13 tells us: "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."

So if we refuse to hear the cry of another needy person, we refuse to do anything to help them when we could in their desperation, then God says, there may come a time when you will cry out and you will not be heard.

So God says: "Call upon me in the day of trouble."

Meet these conditions. Cry out from a sincere, repentant, holy heart that is obeying God and meeting the needs of others, and then I will deliver you and you will glorify Me.

Why don't we cry out to the Lord? Well, we're self-sufficient. We may be looking to other people to help us. We may have misplaced confidence in human flesh rather than the Lord. We may not really know the Lord and His ways and His character. We may not know that He can help us, or we may not trust that He really cares. We may be too proud to cry out to the Lord. We don't want to look foolish. It's embarrassing to say, "I have a need that I can't meet," and to cry out to the Lord.

Perhaps you've had others ignore your cry for help--maybe a parent who abandoned you, a mate who abandoned you who didn't come through in your time of need. Can I just say, "God is not like any human being. You may have been abandoned, but God will never abandon His children."

I want to tell you that over and over and over again I've seen God fulfill this promise. I've cried out to him; I've been at the Red Sea. I've been with the enemy attacking inwardly, outwardly, and in different ways. Again and again I can tell you when I cry out to the Lord the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss isn't finished. She'll be back to tell us the most important reason we could ever call on the Lord. If today's program was helpful to you, I hope you'll get a copy of the whole series. It's called Crying Out and it will remind you to keep calling out to God even in a tough situation.

You can order the series on CD when you call us at 1-800-569-5959 or order by visiting our website ReviveOurHearts.com.

Maybe you've been crying out to God for a long time. Would you tell us your story and tell us how the series has affected you?If you share a prayer request, we have a team who will cry out to God with you. We hope you can be back tomorrow when we begin a series on how to be who God wants us to be even as we get older and move into different seasons of life. Evelyn Christenson will be our guest. Now here's Nancy to wrap things up.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Scripture tells us that there's one cry that God always hears. We read about it in the Old and the New Testament. Joel chapter 2:32 tells us: "It shall come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved or shall be delivered."

Then we read that same verse again in Romans chapter 10:10: "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

To call upon the Lord for eternal salvation of our souls is to acknowledge that we have no hope of eternal life or of a relationship with God apart from Jesus Christ, that we cannot save ourselves, that our religion, our good works, all our efforts, all the good things we do cannot please or satisfy a holy God. That only through the death of Christ on the cross for our sins can we have eternal life, can we be right with God.

So if you've never called upon the name of the Lord to save you, you have God's promise. You can call out today. You must call out today. You don't know that you have tomorrow to call out to the Lord. So I would plead with you; I'd appeal to you if you've never called on the name of the Lord to save you, call on Him. Say, "Lord I can't save myself. Please come and save me for Jesus' sake."

And you have His promise. "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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