Nov 5, 2013

The Promise in Prayer

“Ask, and it will be given to you”
– Jesus, Matthew 7:7

“You need more than just a prayer.”  Have you ever been in such a hopeless or pointless situation that you have thought this or someone has said this to you?  There is some truth in this statement.  God desires more from us than just prayer.  But we also need to realize that prayer is more than “just a prayer.”
We have reduced prayer to a last resort, a sacred/religious practice and we look at prayer as if it’s just not enough.  Maybe we misunderstand the basis for prayer.  Prayer is more than just a last resort, a spiritual discipline, a moment of reverence, or good way to start a meal/finish the day/open and close a service.  Prayer is a big deal.  It’s significant because we are talking to the God of the universe!  The power of prayer is not found in our well-crafted poetic words, the number of people praying, the number of prayer lists we are on, or in the way we pray.  The power in prayer is found in the one we pray to!  The Mountain Mover, the Promise maker, Promise keeper.  Prayer is powerful because a Powerful God has made us a promise.  Jesus makes a special promise when he gave us access through him in prayer.  It’s a bold promise Jesus makes concerning prayer.  His promise is that when we ask him, he will answer.  In fact, to clarify his promise, he states it twice! 
Read Matthew 7:7-11
Take note of the redundancy: 
v.7 “Ask, and it will be given to you”  v.8 “For everyone who asks receives”,

 v.7 “seek, and you will find”  v.8 “and the one who seeks finds”

 v. 7 “knock, and it will be opened to you”  v.8 “and to the one who knocks it will be opened”

Every word that Jesus says he means and Jesus never makes an empty promise that he may or may not deliver on.  He always backs up his word with action.  Hey, anyone that predicts his own death and then promises he will raise from the dead three days later has made a bold statement.  But when he actually delivers on it…that person should be taken seriously, especially when he makes promises!  Furthermore, Jesus is not often redundant in the scriptures, so I think it should be noted that when Jesus repeats himself like he does here in Matthew 7:7-8 we ought to really listen to what he is saying.

He also makes other similar statements about prayer:  John 14:13-14, John 15:1, John 15:16, John 16:23-24, Matthew 18:19, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24

But he goes even further to make his promise certain in our hearts by defending that promise!

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!

The other day my son Hudson came inside after playing outside with the neighborhood kids.  He was hot and sweaty, like he had just finished running a mile, and asked for a glass of water.  What do you think I did?  Let me tell you first what I did not do.  I did not give him a glass of gasoline and say, “Drink up son!”  Nor did I say, “You are barking up the wrong tree, go ask your mother.”  Why didn’t I do that?  Because I’m not stupid, nor am I a horrible parent.  I am certainly not the best parent, my wife is a much better parent than I am, but I’m smart enough and love my kids enough to at least attempt to give them what they need when they need it rather than harm them.  My son asks me for help because he knows this and trusts me.

As a parent you expect your children to trust you.  Why?  Because you love them and you have their best interest at heart!   The question that Jesus is posing is this:  Don’t you think that a perfect Father with perfect love and perfect power can and will take care of his children even better than an earthly father can and will?  Jesus is actually giving a defense for trusting our Heavenly father.  Why does he need to defend his father?  Because, Jesus knows us better than we think.  Though we may not want to admit it, the truth is that we often don’t trust God. 

James 4:2  “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

It could also be said “that you ask not because you trust not.”  We too often and too quickly trust ourselves, our means, our motives/intentions, our money, our doctors, our friends, our spouses, our parents before we trust God. We rob God of the trust that he so rightly deserves!  The crazy thing is that God is more trustworthy than any of these other things.  In fact, He is really the only one that we can trust, the only one that will never let us down, the only one that delivers on EVERY promise that he makes.  In reality, we are robbing ourselves!

3 Things we need to remember here:
God loves us.  The illustration that Jesus uses of a father and son communicates the basic truth that God loves us more than even the deep love that human parents have for their children.  God’s love is perfect because he is perfect.  Out of his love for us he desires to meet our need and answer our prayer.
God will to give us what we need, not necessarily what we want.  Jesus mentions the children ask for bread and fish.  These things are basically necessities of life.  God promises to provide the same!  He may not provide us with the life of ease and luxury that we all want, but he will certainly make provision for us with what we need!
God is good.  Jesus’s point is that if we as humans, who are sinful and tricky, can muster up the ability to give good things to our children, why would God who is holy, good, and perfect not do so much more.  God is good and he will be good to his children.
  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good
God will always give us exactly what we need when we ask.  He loves us and he is good.  He wants us to ask.  And when we ask, he promises to answer.

He always has an answer and his answer is always the best thing for us!  He’ll tell us “yes,” “ no,” “wait,” or “you need this, not that.”  He’s God, He’s Good, and He love us.  TRUST HIM, ASK HIM!

So when you pray, realize that it's more than "just a prayer."  You are tapping into the promises of God.  Prayer is taking the need of man by the pursuit of faith, and bringing that need to the unending and powerful supply of a God who is loving and good and promises to answer.   When you put all of that together…you get something great.  You find...the door is opened for you.