Text: Matthew 20:17-28
I. We don’t know much about Salome, other than that she was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the apostles James and John.
A. She made a request of Jesus that he turned down - Matthew 20:20-22
B. Jesus later tells the disciples that they can ask anything and Jesus would do it - John 14:13-14
C. Yet, here is a case where the request was turned down and why it was turned down is an important lesson for us about prayer
II. It was not God’s will
A. Salome’s request assumed that Jesus was going to set up a physical kingdom
1. Jesus wasn’t here to create another nation - John 18:36
2. When people tried to force the issue, he left - John 6:15
B. Thus, what Salome asked was contrary to God’s designs for the world
1. The requests we make must be according to God’s will – consistent with His plans - I John 5:14-15
2. When Jesus taught how to pray, a part was to emphasize that God’s will be done - Matthew 6:10
3. Asking God to contradict His plans is wrong
C. This means that before we pray, we need to study what God said to make sure that what we are asking fits in with God’s plans.
1. Study - II Timothy 2:15
2. Understand - Ephesians 5:17
D. Examples of improper prayers
1. Asking God to bless an unlawful marriage
2. Asking God to help an illegal business venture to succeed
3. Asking God to save by a mere prayer when He said salvation comes in a different way and way is not being followed.
III. It was not for God’s glory
A. Salome wanted her sons elevated to the number one and two spots in Christ’s kingdom. The focus was on their glory and her ability to bask in their reflected glory
1. The other disciples saw the request as an attempted power grab - Matthew 20:24
2. Jesus explained that the greatest in the kingdom was not by appointment but by service - Matthew 20:25-28
B. Many prayers fail because the beneficiary is ourselves - James 4:3
1. People focus on worldly things that only bring temporary benefits
2. What is the motives for your request?
3. Our actions are to bring God glory - Matthew 5:16
C. Examples of improper prayers
1. Praying for success or wealth with no other reason that to succeed
2. Praying for a good looking spouse
IV. It was not in God’s Time
A. Salome’s request aimed for instant success
B. Our lives are in God’s hands - Psalms 31:15
C. Wait on the Lord - Psalms 27:14; 37:34; Isaiah 40:31
D. Too often we don’t just want an answer, we want it NOW!
1. Rarely is now the best time or the best answer
V. The answer might not be what you expect
A. Salome’s request while turned down was not outright rejected.
B. James and John would be great in the kingdom, but only after their service
1. James died - Acts 12:1-2
2. John was imprisoned - Revelation 1:9-10
3. Jesus asked if they were prepared to suffer - Matthew 20:22-23
C. To answer Salome’s request, at least partly, required molding and shaping her son’s characters
1. Hardships are need to improve us - Romans 5:3-4
2. Temptations must be endured - James 1:12
3. Our faith has to be tested - I Peter 1:6-7
4. James and John’s greatness came with great change in themselves
D. When we pray, do we realize that the answer to our prayer likely will require changes in ourselves?
1. We pray for growth. What will that require?
2. We pray that the word be spread. What will that require?
VI. What will you ask of God?
[Based on an article by Joshua Welch]