“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”
Probably a prayer that you learned early in life if you grew up with church in your childhood. We learn to pray at an early age and we teach our children to pray as soon as we can. We said a prayer of confession, repentance, and faith as we began our relationship with Christ, the “sinner’s prayer” as we call it. Prayer is the first spiritual discipline that we pick up on. We’ve done it most of our lives, we believe in it, we know that we that should do it. The concept isn’t hard to grasp, the practice isn’t hard to learn, yet a solid prayer life is so difficult to have. Speaking honestly, I’ve struggled with prayer. Part of my profession is praying for others…yet in no way do I believe that I’m a professional at it. Sometimes I drift off and ramble in my prayer. Sometimes I try to shape my prayers with exaggerated and eloquent speech. Sometimes I have no idea what to pray. And shamefully I admit that sometimes I don’t want to pray and just don’t pray. I’m hoping I’m not the only one! I also don’t think that I’m the only one who wants a rich prayer life. I want to see the Lord answer my prayer. I want Him to be pleased with my prayer life. I want prayer to be a serious and vital part of my life.
Something Jesus said about prayer caught my eye recently and I want to share with you some things I thinks Jesus wants us to understand about this simple and powerful spiritual discipline.
Matthew 7:7-117) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9) Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10) Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
I’ll discuss some thoughts about this passage over the next couple weeks, but let’s start with this…
Prayer is Born Out of a Need
“ask, seek, and knock”The most basic reason that we pray is that we need something. You ask for something you don’t have. You seek for something because you don’t possess it. You knock on a door because you want what is on the other side of the door. There are a lot of reasons we pray: thanksgiving, praise, adoration. But the most basic reason is that we have needs. There things in our lives that we cannot do on our own, otherwise we would not have to ask, seek, or knock
Prayer admits at least 3 basic things about our need:
· It Admits Our Weakness – we usually pray because a need has risen in our lives that either too intense for us to bear with sanity or because the solution and answer is out of our power and hands, we cannot do it.
· It Admits His Power – that He can supply what we need
· It Admits His Control – things and matters are ultimately out of our control. Prayer confesses that He is in control.
Some of you are facing a need in your life that you cannot handle on your own. Your power is insufficient, you’ve done all you can, but it’s out of your control. Prayer is the solution to your dilemma.
· Here’s what I’ve often thought when I get to a dilemma where I tried everything I can, but realized things are out of my hands: “Well, ya should have gone to him in the first place and maybe you wouldn’t be where you are!”…maybe this is true, but I’m not sure it matters to God as to how you got to him, but that you have finally brought it to him.
· Prayer is transaction of the offering of your need to a God who can supply all your needs.
We have a need, and we have a God who can, who wants to, and who will meet that need if we ask, seek, and knock…
The Bible is full of examples of talented, faithful, mighty people who did incredible things for God but also deeply needed and used prayer. Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Elijah, Daniel, etc. Great men with great needs, who at some point in their journey realized their weakness, his power and his control.
Bottom line is this: we are people with lots of real needs. Things that we can’t do, questions we don’t know the answers to, and necessities that we cannot get. That’s why we pray, because we need him. We are weak. We need a powerful and able God to intervene in our chaos and mess. We need his help. We need what only he can give. Things are spinning out of our control, but they are not out of his control. He is in control. So, ask, seek, and knock. Jesus tells us to, he encourages us to, he want us to!