Summary: Lesson 31
For the first and only time in this sermon, we find Jesus addressing the same subject twice. The subject of prayer was covered in detail in Matthew 6, especially in the section dealing with the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). His second mention of the subject shows how serious a matter prayer is to Jesus.
I. A PROMISE TO CLAIM vs. 7-11
This is one of those "exceeding great and precious promises" that Peter spoke of in 2 Peter 1:4.
A. Man’s Responsibility
1. Persistent Prayer
a. The necessary elements to prayer as mentioned by Jesus are found here in the present tense, which suggests persistence.
b. Our responsibility is to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking, and we’re not to quit.
c. It’s obvious that the prayer that Jesus is talking about is more than a casual bowing of the head and the ritualistic uttering of words. Jesus is speaking of a prayer life that is motivated by a burning pursuit of God.
d. Persistence in prayer involves more than a new resolve at the beginning of each new Year, a resolve that normally lasts no longer than a few weeks, maybe a few months at best.
e. If we are to receive the blessings that God has for us, we must persist in prayer. We mustn’t give up or give in.
f. Luke 11:5-8
g. Luke 18:1-5
h. Perhaps D. A. Carson sums up our lack of persistence prayer best when he says, "The Western world is not characterized by prayer. By and large, to our unspeakable shame, even genuine Christians in the West are not characterized by prayer. Our environment loves hustle and bustle, smooth organization and powerful institutions, human self-confidence and human achievement, new opinions and novel schemes; and the church of Jesus Christ has conformed so thoroughly to this environment that it is often difficult to see how it differs in these matters from contemporary paganism. There are, of course, exceptions; but I am referring to what is characteristic. Our low spiritual ebb is directly traceable to the flickering feebleness of our prayers..." (The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7, pg. 109)
2. Proper Prayer
a. It does no good to pray persistently in the wrong way.
b. In no uncertain terms, God has promised us His provision. He has promised to give us what we need. However, we learn from other Scriptures that the promises found here are not without conditions.
(1) If we are living for the Lord, we will receive from the Lord - 1 John 3:22
(2) If our motives are right we will receive from the Lord - James 4:3
(3) If we are seeking Jesus and His kingdom rule in our life above all else, then our desires will be controlled by His life in us. Correspondingly, we will find ourselves desiring and asking for the things that are in concert with His will - 1 John 5:14
B. God’s Proficiency
1. A Statement of Fact
a. Many have failed to take into consideration the conditions mentioned above, and consequently they have grown weary in prayer and have become skeptical of God because things didn’t automatically fall into place as they thought they should have according to their interpretation of this verse.
b. The truth of the matter is, sometimes we ask for things that are not good for us, therefore, because God is a good Father, we don’t receive those things.
c. The facts accompanying this statement are that if we ask for things that are good for us, those things that will bring us nearer to God, He will indeed grant our prayer and give us what we ask for.
2. A Story with Force
a. It is a known fact of life that even evil men know how to give good gifts. That being the case, how much more shall our Father, who is absolutely holy and unquestionably perfect, not give us that which good and right and perfect for us?
b. This story is the Lord’s way of reminding us of the goodness of our God. He is encouraging us here to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity that is ours through prayer.
II. A PRACTICE TO CONSIDER v. 12
A. Our Need
1. All of us have certain things that we like for people to do for us and with us.
2. We would do well to ask ourselves, "What is it that I like? What are the things that please me? What are the things that help me and encourage me?"
B. Our Deed
1. Once we’ve determined what our needs are, then we set out to meet those needs in others both in quality and in quantity.
2. The Lord does not say here that men will always do to us as we do to them, but then again, that is not our motivation for practicing this "Golden Rule." Our motivation is found in the fact that in doing these things, we are fulfilling the Word of God.
3. There would virtually be no more problems among people in the world, if we could learn to live by these words of Jesus.