Sunday Morning Sermon
August 27, 2017
Matthew 7:7 – 11
Did you ever play the “wishes game” when you were a child? You know it. You pretend you are walking along the beach and find a bottle with a magic genie. He pops out of the bottle and grants you three wishes. What would you wish for?
When we listen to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7, is that too a fairy tale? Does God really answer prayer?
When God says, “No.”
The fact of the matter is, sometimes God says “No.”
- Does that mean He doesn’t exist?
- Or worse, does that mean He doesn’t care?
- Or does God expect us to beg? Luke 18:1 – 4.
Why does God say “No”?
- Sometimes our requests would hurt us.
- Sometimes we just want an easy way out.
- Sometimes there is a greater purpose at stake.
Five Prayer Principles
- God knows best. The purpose of prayer is not to change God but to change ourselves – to align our wills with the will of God. Do you remember the first part of Jesus’ model prayer?
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:9, 10).
- God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. Don’t pray for enlightenment in order to skip the hard work of study. Rather, as you study ask God for understanding (James 1:5).
- Prayer moves within the natural laws that govern life. Bad things do happen to good people. Prayer gives us the power to thrive in the midst of adversity (Romans 5:3 ff.).
- We must be definite in prayer. Jesus warned us to avoid meaningless phrases and endless repetition (Matthew 6:7, 8). Prayer is not a mantra!
- We must be honest in prayer. We can’t lie to God and we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. That’s why confession is such a critical part of prayer.
The promise is, God will give us what we ask for.
- Some people look around for the hidden camera, laugh and walk away!
- Some people foolishly wish for more stuff to clutter their already busy lives.
- God is not a «Cosmic Vending Machine»! Do you remember the old Janis Joplin song «Mercedes Bentz»?
- So what would you ask for? What should you ask for? Consider the example of Solomon (1 Kings chapter 3).
A great deal of our literature and mythology is devoted to the “Quest” – knights set out on noble missions. Are you ready to begin your quest?
- Some people sit around the living room and dream about going on a quest. They might read about it. They might get out the maps and plan routes and draw up lists of the things they would need, but they never actually set out.
- Other people give up too soon. These words are present imperatives. That simply means we need to “keep on asking … keep on seeking … keep on knocking.” (See the International Standard Bible among others.)
- Perhaps what hinders us is just knowing where to begin. Jesus told us what to “seek first …” (Matthew 6:33)
How many people miss out because they don’t have the courage to go knock on the door? How many opportunities are missed because it just seems too good to be true.
Matthew 7:7 is a beautiful promise, so what is required to make it come true?
- Lord help me see your purpose.
- Lord, you are Lord!
- Rejoice, even in the face of suffering.
- Our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances.
- Hebrews 12:2
- James 1:2, 3
Asking means admitting we need help. Seeking means asking plus effort. Knocking means asking plus effort plus persistence and it all starts with a step.
Some Things to Think About
- “Ask and you will receive” … Is that always true? (Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. What did he ask for and what did he receive?)
- “Seek and you will find” … What should we be seeking?
- “Knock and the door will be opened” … What door is Jesus talking about?
- What do these three actions (ask, seek, knock) have in common?
- What are some of the reasons people don’t ask, seek, or knock?
- God knows what we need, and, as a good Father he provides what we need, so why does God want us to ask?
- What will move us from thinking about going on a quest (seeking) and actually going?
- Grammatically, the three verbs (ask, seek, knock) are present imperatives. That means we are to “keep on asking, seeking and knocking.” Why do some people give up early?
- How will asking, seeking, and knocking, change us?
- Write a list of five things to ask God for. Pray over this list every day.