Summary: Answering questions about our prayer requests, as well as a order of service based on The Lord’s Prayer.
D. A. Carson said, “I doubt if there is any Christian who has not sometimes found it difficult to pray. In itself this is neither surprising nor depressing: it is not surprising, because we are still pilgrims with many lessons to learn; it is not depressing, because struggling with such matters is part of the way we learn” (A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p. 9).
“Ask and it will be give to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”
1. Your heavenly Father wants you to depend on Him.
In this passage, the relationship between a Christian and God is likened to the relationship between a son and his father. As a young child must depend on his parent or guardian, you and I must depend on God, our heavenly Father.
If we do not pray (or if we do not pray often), we reveal that we are self-reliant, not God-reliant (whether we admit it or not).
The main reason why we pray is not to inform God about our needs but to acknowledge that we need His help. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Our prayers are much more important to us than to God.
2. Your heavenly Father wants you to be persistent in your prayers.
The words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” are in the present imperative tense. Jesus is saying, “Keep on asking; keep on seeking; keep on knocking.” In Luke 18, Jesus told a story to teach us that we “should always pray and not give up.
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she get justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
Jesus is not saying that God is like that judge. We are not to try to bother God until finally He gives us what we want. Prayer doesn’t work like that. We are to pray knowing that God is nothing like that judge. He cares about you and me. What we need more than persistent prayers is persistent faith.
I believe God often answers “Yes” to our prayers, but we may not see the results until later (sometimes much later).
3. Your heavenly Father doesn’t want you to be passive in your prayers.
Sometimes when we ask for something, God expects us to be involved in the answer to that prayer. For example, if you are asking the Lord to help you find a job, you should be willing to look for a job. You shouldn’t do nothing and say, “I asked God for a job and I’m here waiting for Him to give me one.”
4. Your heavenly Father is willing to give good gifts to you.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” It’s not natural for a father to ignore the needs of his son. The point is: if human fathers (who are self-centered) are willing to give good things to their children, how much more is God? God is not reluctant to give us what we need.
5. Your heavenly Father knows what is best for you.
The child in Jesus’ example asked his father for bread and fish—good and necessary things. If the child had asked for a poisonous snake, would the father have granted his request? Sometimes God knows we are praying for “snakes” and doesn’t give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers.