Title: Ask, Seek, Knock
Text: Matthew 7:7-12
As we look at this passage the first thing we must understand is that this is not the only qualification to getting our prayers answered. Jesus here is speaking on prayer but we must also combine all the other commands he has given us throughout scripture to understand what it means to pray and pray effectively.
It is important to pray but it is of utter importance that we pray effectively. Why? Well just as we read in James “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Not just the prayers of a righteous man but the effective fervent prayers of a righteous man.
So it is not just important that we pray but that we pray the right way. Is there a wrong way to pray? Yes.
As we discussed earlier Jesus give us in chapter 6 examples of how not to pray. Standing in pride. Vain repetitions. These are ways not to pray. So there is a way not to pray.
I do speak a lot about having a daily prayer life. But it is just as important to have an effective prayer life. We learn it is not the quantity but it is the quality when it comes to prayer. It is not how long you pray or how much you say when you pray but how you pray effectively. How you touch the heart of god with prayer.
So again we ask how do we pray effectively. Here Jesus gives us one way as we will see but let us look at some other passages in scripture and see if we can get a description of what it means to pray effectively.
Sincere true Faith
Jesus tells us in Mark 11:24,” Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
So the first qualification to praying effectively is to pray with faith. Pray believing that God will do.
It is strange that I would have the opportunity to preach on praying effectively because on the same day that I began to study the passage and prepare the message for Sunday night, which by the way was Tuesday, I received a phone call from a credit company. They used the technique of wanting to update my information. So they verified my address and name. As usual they spell my last name wrong and I correct them by telling them it is spelled just like Hardee’s. So the famous question that I have been asked all my life is, “Do you have any ownership.” So I told her no but it would be nice. Then she said a very curious and disturbing think, “I speak it into existence.”
What she was saying was that as she said this it was going to happen because she spoke it with her mouth.
This is how some people view faith. Faith to them is a force. It is by this force of faith that God created the world. It is by this force of faith that people are healed it is by this force of faith, as a wave of energy, that things are created. If you want something you just speak it and faith creates it.
The problem is this produces faith in faith and not faith in God.
God wants us to have faith but the faith we have, “which is believe with no phyisical proof” is in God not in faith itself.
I know you remember Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 AV)
Or as one version reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.
It is not the creation of this for God is the creator. It is by his hands are things created.
Prayer in Jesus Name
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 AV)
It is so important that we know the will of God when we pray. I have heard many people pray with almost a demanding spirit. They demand God to answer. Yet that is not what the Lord would have them to do. His desire is for his will to be done. Notice how Jesus told us to pray in the “Lord’s Prayer”, “Thy will be done”.
Pray according to God’s will
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14 AV)
Pray in God’s will
It is not just important that we pray for God’s will but to be an effective prayer we must pray in God’s will. That means that we are in his will when we pray. That means that we are “a righteous man”. We are pure in heart. This is why Jesus said in , Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
John wrote in 1 John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Notice the qualifying statement. It is not just asking for anything but there is a conditions in which we must meet to get our prayers answered.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7 AV)
We understand the clearly as we read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-7.
Paul tells us to “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;” in Colossians 4:2. Then as if to repeat himself he writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
Some other great examples of persistence prayer is Moses who had to hold his hands up for the Israelites to win the battle.
Then we see Elijah who prayed for prayed for rain after a long drought 1Kings 18:41-45. The Bible tells us that 7 times he sent his servant to look for the rain. When there was no evidence then persistently he presently his requested to the Lord until the rain came.
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:41-45 AV)
It is not just important that we pray but that we pray with power. That we get in touch and in tuned with God. Then he will give us “good gifts”. I have no problem with believing that God has provided for everything that we need plus even some of our wants. In each all we have to do is ask. Ask him.
What we need is important to God.
Praying for Others
These series of passages ends with this command from the Lord, Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
I believe that this is the last principle of prayer. Prayer will change you. It will change your attitude toward God and others. But not just prayer I believe he is talking about intercessory prayer. I believe the last command to effective praying is to pray for others. Not just for your needs. Not just for your families needs but your neighbors needs. Your friends needs. Your enemies needs. When God sees your unselfish prayers for others he will begin to answer for you. It does not mean that we never pray for ourselves but we must follow the principle of “Putting others first”. This is carried over even into our prayer life.
What is it that you have need of tonight? Let us begin by acknowledging God but also by interceding for others.