Summary: This message was preached near the beginning of the New Year on the topic of prayer to help our church see the importance of prayer and spiritual growth in the new year.
Living Large in 2016
“Learning to Pray Large”
Let me start with a question this morning. What is the single biggest prayer request you have ever made? What is the biggest answer you have ever asked God for?
• Perhaps it was for healing for yourself or for another family member
• maybe it was to be delivered from a difficult decision or
• maybe it was for a big stash of money.
All of us have been in situations are places where we wanted to ask someone something and sometimes if were brave we would go ahead and we ask questions like:
• Hey boss, can I have a raise?
• Hey baby, will you marry me?
• Hey dad, can I borrow the car?
But for many of us we would just simply decide... Nope, I’m not asking. There are several things that keep us from making these requests.
 Fear of Rejection. We are simply afraid that the answer will be no. That we will be turned down flat. And here’s the thing... the greater the fear, the less likely we are to ask. Because no one likes to be rejected.
 Lack of faith or confidence. We see God at work in someone else’s life; we listen as they describe how God has answered their prayers and we think, I wish I had faith like that or I wish I could learn to pray like that.
 We think our request may not matter. Either it is such a small request and we think God has much bigger matters to tend to or it’s such a large request we think we don’t deserve it. Now if you have ever felt this way, if you have ever lifted a prayer to God and you felt like your prayer didn’t get any higher than the ceiling or you were afraid of being rejected or you felt you were important enough---then God has some words you need to hear. Listen.
There’s nothing that reveals more about a believer than his/her prayer life. How we approach God of what we’re willing to ask for shows how we view God. It is very similar to how a child will make a request on their father. So let me ask you this morning, how do you view God? Is He
• Gentle or harsh?
• Attentive or do you think he ignores you?
• Do you pray with assurance or with fear?
• Is he generous or is he a cheapskate?
• Does he show favoritism or does he treat all of us the same?
• Is he happy or is he angry?
There are three words here that become very important in this passage..... Everything is built around these three words. Ask. Seek. Knock. There is within this verse a suggested progression in prayer. Let me show you.
1st level. Asking. There’s some things that the need is so clear that we only need to ask for them. A man who has been stranded in the desert for a few days doesn’t beat around the bush... He says, “Can I have some water?” A man who hasn’t eaten in days simply says, “Can I have something to eat?” A man with pneumonia who cannot breathe simply says, “Can I have some oxygen?” When the need is this obvious, we know exactly what to ask for. So we do. We know our need and if we know someone who has what we need and if we believe that individual cares about us…then we ask. But there is also a second level.
2nd level. Seeking. Seeking is a deeper level of praying than just asking. Sometimes we doubt and James reminds us that is not the way to approach God. James 1:6-7. NIV. Paul also reminds us of a verse that has often helped me in my prayer life. “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.” So when we do not know how to pray we say, “Holy Spirit, pray for me.” The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus lives forever to intercede for us….to pray for us.
I preach at funerals in our community; over 30 times a year for people I have never met. Often I tell those who attend a couple of things.
• Don’t ever tell someone that you know exactly what they are going through or feeling
• you are not those people
• no two circumstances are identical
However, we do need to recognize something here. There is someone who completely understands, someone who cares, someone who is patiently waiting for us to simply ask or look for his help. His name is Jesus. Seeking is a deeper level than asking. We’re not only asking, we are also actively looking for an answer.