August 9, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
What makes a good prayer? Is it asking for what we want? Should it be a big prayer? Requesting big things?
What makes a prayer answerable? And does God always answer our prayers?
Today is a prequel to our next series of sermons on those big unanswered prayers. Those stories we know and may not have thought of in the way we will discuss them over the next few weeks.
We are doing this as a backdrop to those prayers; to understand the promise from God that those prayers will be answered. God says that if we pray it, God will do it.
So let’s look at a passage where Jesus speaks about those requests.
In Matthew 7:7-11, there are three observations of what Jesus is asking of us, what he wants us to do…
The simple request of us today as we look at this passage is this…Just Ask.
Let us think about our prayer time and that unanswered prayer in our own lives. A new job? A loved one to know Jesus? Health?
Identifying that unanswered prayer is a key as we look at this passage and what God wants us to do.
So the three observations of this passage:
1. The simplicity.
Prayers don’t have to be formal or hard. The instruction is simple — no fancy formula, no magical words. Just ask, seek, knock. Just make a request to God.
This can be a word of encouragement for those who may be early in their prayer life or have never prayed. If you don’t know much about how to pray, listen to Jesus’ words…they are simple. There are no special words.
The most meaningful prayers are those that aren’t composed, or scripted, but come from the heart. It’s precious to hear someone choke out a prayer without knowing the proper words, without the formula. It’s beautiful…it’s God speaking through them.
Jesus’ instructions are simple. If you have even a tiny bit of faith, and a need, just talk to God.
There are more formal prayers in the Bible, Paul’s prayers, and others, that we may read and learn. These are grown-up prayers, and our prayers should grow up as we grow in our prayers life with God. But we should hold to these instructions from Jesus, a prayer can be a simple request.
2. The context.
It’s crucial that we understand the context of this passage. It is not about asking for a bunch of stuff, or a “Sunday school prayer.”
What is Jesus inviting to us to do here?
The invitation is continual: When you read all of the commands written in this passage in the original language, it contains an invitation that is ongoing, not just one time.
The invitation relates to the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is the longest continual sermon from Jesus’ teaching and contains radical instructions for how we are to live our lives. It’s Jesus at His core. He starts with our view of the world and what is good and bad. And turns it upside down!
- The poor, the meek, the broken…They will inherit the kingdom. Consider yourself blessed when persecuted! A radical view.
- Then he turns to morality: turn the other cheek, never take vengeance. Don’t lust or be tempted – that’s where the brokenness begins. Don’t divorce. And have no unreconciled conflict in our lives.
- And never fast or give or pray to be seen by others…but to glorify God.
- And we should never worry. We should live the life of complete trust and have not worry. God will provide everything we need.
Ask seek and knock…is the beginning of Jesus’ conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon informs us on what it is we are asking for. It guides us in our prayer lives! It is not about stuff or God please fix everything. This is an invitation to pray about those things we just discussed in the Sermon on the Mount. How we see the world, to pray about the world, the pain, the blessings…
And this is perfectly placed. Because if we are all honest, we can’t see all this with a human heart. We need God to help us to give, to pray, to not worry, to trust God, to not judge, to see pain as a blessing….because God will provide
3. This is an invitation.
Jesus knows we can’t do it on our own. And yes, it’s a prayer for God’s provision. But it is so much more! God is our Father and wants to give us so much more!! A Father that truly loves us and wants to give us everything we need…both physical and spiritual. Jesus is inviting us to come to God with all of our needs. Blessed are the poor in spirit, who know the depth of their need…the Father loves those who are struggling, and broken and are weak. Those who need help.
Addicts, confused parents, struggling marriages, worrying about debt, students wrestling with doubt…
All these He invites you to come to Him. And He promises every one of us, every one of our prayers will not be ignored, or forgotten or despised. But in His time, in some form, we will receive. We will get answers, ones that are truly for our good.