Matthew 7:7-11, NASB
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Prayer is such a broad subject that it is difficult to organize a message on prayer as a whole but I’m going to try. Simply for the sake of presenting the message is some order without it being random comments on the subject, I have divided the message into four parts, all relating to prayer.
I. THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER
- First of all, prayer is a spiritual law that can be summed up in one word “Ask”. George W. Truett said, “The law of prayer is to ask”. This means that prayer is essentially easy and simple. So simple that little children excel in prayer because they know how to ask, they are not embarrassed to ask and they ask in faith. When our son was around 4-5 years old, he asked for a trampoline for his birthday. Needless to say, we could not afford a trampoline. I told him more than once, “Son, you are not getting a trampoline.” He was not detered in the least; I would hear him tell others, “I am getting a trampoline for my birthday.” As we got closer to his birthday, I asked his mother what we were going to do. She suggested that I begin looking for a trampoline. We both knew that we could not afford one. I was in a sporting goods store in Decatur getting prices and the cheapest one I could find was $300 which was out of the question. At that time in our life, we didn’t spend that much on all four of our children for Christmas and this was a birthday. I was about to leave the store when the owner came out. I guess he could see the stress in my face because he asked me if there was a problem and I said, “Yes, matter of fact there is. My son wants a trampoline for his birthday and we can’t afford one.” He said, “Can you come up with a $100?” I said, “That might be a possibility.” He said, “Come with me,” and he took me to the back where they was one already put together and it had a bent frame. He said, “You can either straighten the frame or find a place in your yard where it will set level.” Long story short, the boy’s faith and his persistant asking got him a trampoline which he and the others wore out over a period of years. The law of prayer is to ask in humility with confidence.
- I don’t unusally get into grammer because I am not a Greek scholar but Jesus uses the imperative voice. When He says ASK, it is not a suggestion, it is a command. Jesus is commanding us to ask and to do otherwise is a sin of transgression. Prayerlessness is a sin and it is not a small sin.
- Prayer is not only a law and a command, it is a blessed priviledge. It is the priviledge of sonship. Note what Jesus said, “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?” He is referring to a father giving to a son. Our sonship gives us the priviledge of prayer.
II. THE EVOLUTION OF PRAYER [The growth and development of prayer in our lives]
To illustrate this progression in the practice of prayer: Jesus uses a trilolgy of imperatives. With each new imperative, there is a progression in intensity.
- ASK: Asking is the simplist form of prayer and is related to our needs. When we supplicate, we ask for our needs, our daily bread. When we interceed, we ask in behalf of the needs of others. We ask with our lips based on our need or the needs of others.
- SEEK: Seeking is more intense than merely asking. We seek with our heart and we seek for that which we have lost or fear that we are in jepordy of losing. Asking is motivated by need but seeking is motivated by passion. We are passionate about the things we seek.
- KNOCK: Knocking is much more agressive than seeking. Knocking indicates a barrier, an obstacle that needs to be removed or a door that needs to be opened. It is the most agressive form of prayer. It is like Jacob at Peniel–it is wrestling with God.
III. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PRAYER
- What is the basis of our praying? Why do we pray? What is the foundation of our praying? This is probably the highlight of the text...”If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” The foundation of prayer is the goodness of God.
- Note: the very first thing that the devil seeks to destroy in the mind of Adam and Eve is the fact that GOD IS GOOD. He begins to cast doubt on the benevolence of God and convinces our parents that God is withholding. Satan knew that if he could destroy their confidence in God’s goodness that it would destroy their faith in God. Doing such diabolical things is what earned him the nick name “Devil”.
- Jesus also aludes to our evil…so the basis of prayer is not to be found in us. We establish prayer on the goodness of God. He invites us to pray because He is good and He delights to do good things for us. When I pray, I am talking to my heavenly Father who is good and has good things in mind for me.
IV. THE ESSENTIAL OF PRAYER [Note: not essentials plural]
- You cannot be saved from hell a part from prayer. I know some of you that have the testimony that you believe you were saved the moment you believed and with that I agree but whether you realize it or not, your prayer was to be saved and you directed that prayer to Jesus. Let me put it to you this way, “Jesus responds to our petition, He never saves anyone against their will.” There will not be anyone in heaven with the testimony, “I didn’t ask to be saved.”
- Your spiritual development, your sanctification, your growth in grace depends upon your faithfulness and persistence in prayer. The present imperative tense used for the verbs in Matthew 7:7 implies that the asking, seeking, and knocking are all described as continuous actions, and this implies that prayer to be effective should also be a continual habit, rather than an occasional plea. Literally, the verse could be translated, “Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.” Cease not to ask until you receive–Cease not to seek until you find–Cease not to knock until the door is opened. We will not recover what we lost in the fall unless we seek and the doors will not open unless we knock. Prayer is essential for our spiritual growth and development. PRAYER IS SOMETHING WE DO AND KEEP ON DOING. To be effective in prayer, we must practice everyday. We must as Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer must be a way of life. S.D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray.” The question is, do we believe this? We talk about prayer, we even sing about prayer; yea, we attend conferences on prayer but we don’t pray. Praying is one of those things that we do not do once and quit but we keep on keeping on.
- REVIVAL, Spiritual renewal depend on prayer. I don’t know how many missionaries I have known or heard speak but they all same the same thing: “Our greatest need is for your prayers.“ There was a time when I didn’t understand this request and then a time when I doubted the Missionaries integrity. I thought they were singing the company song but then I took a few mission trips. They are being honest. They covet our prayers more than anything else. They need our prayers more than anything else. The last few months, I have felt the same as the Missionaries: I covet prayers. The Grahams have used MY HOPE in 57 foreign countries and it has worked but I don’t think it is working in America. We have only 12,000 churches participating. To put this in perspective, we have only 3 churches participating in Morgan County. There are 100 plus Baptist Churches in Morgan County, not to mention Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal and other evangelicals. I would guess that we have in the neighborhood of 200, maybe 250. Either way, we are talking lest than 1% who are even remotely interested is seeing America come by to Christ. Folks, I cannot move people. I cannot motivate them but we are talking about the Grahams. Billy Graham has a burden for America, he has made a plea but it has fell on deaf ears. Our only HOPE is divine intervention. Only God can save America. This means our only hope is to pray and ask Him to intervene.
In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian gets captured by the Giant Despair who locks him in the dugeon of Doubting Castle. Christian is getting beaten every day and is on the verge of giving up when he realizes that he is not alone. Hope was with him in the same cell. Suddenly he realizes that Hope is the key and sure enough when he aroused Hope, the door came open and Christian walked out of the dark dungeon into the light of freedom. Hope was the key. Without Hope, we give in to despair and we stop praying. We cannot give in to doubt and despair. We must pray for Revival in America no matter how dark the future appears to be.