Matthew 7 vs 7 - 11
7 ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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!
Prayer you know is a funny old business, funny in the sense of peculiar. We are told to ask for things that we might well receive anyway, or secure by hard work, like our daily bread, and superficially at least, we are told here, without any restriction, to ask and it will be given us. Clearly that can’t be right for many times we’ve asked for things and haven’t received them. So, either prayer doesn’t work or we haven’t understood correctly what Jesus is teaching us.
Let’s think about this first of all, prayer acknowledges that we are not all powerful but ultimately dependent on the grace of God even for the things we seem to get without any trouble. We haven’t always realised that or taken it into account. Any prayer then must by definition be an act of submission to God and to his will. Secondly, do we have the wisdom to ask for what is right? Turn the illustration of Jesus around and ask what parent would give a stone to their son for a meal if he asked for it, or a venomous snake to their daughter because she thought it would be a nice change from fish? The question is not hard.... no parent with an ounce of sense.
You see the key word for understanding here is the word “good”. Even the worst most violent parents know what is good for their children even though they may not give it. Turn it around again and God knows what is good for us even when we don’t and as a wise heavenly Father he will not give to us things that are harmful for our physical good and spiritual growth. If that is the case, how should we pray? Well we should ask wisely, and the best way to do that is to walk daily and closely with God, to be in constant communion with him and our prayers will be shaped by his word. Then we can ask with confidence and faith. We should also be persistent in prayer; ask, seek, knock. When we are confident that we are asking well, for good things that accord with God’s will and word then we should be persistent and not give up at the first discouragement. Having said all this, we shouldn’t think this is all that can be said; prayer will continue to be a gift of grace but a deep mystery for us all.
PRAYER: Abba, Father, sometimes I am very selfish in my prayer requests and very often foolish in what I ask for; at other times I lack both persistence and faith. Jesus tells me here to ask with wisdom and to ask with confidence for the things that are good. Guide me by your word and draw close by your Spirit and lead me by both to ask for good things so that your name will be glorified. I ask as always, in Jesus name. AMEN