More on the Subject of Prayer
Text: Matthew 7: 7- 11
Jesus’ love for prayer is most evident. In His life and in His teaching, again and again, He would encourage people to cultivate their prayer-life. He had already taught His disciples how they may pray better by giving them a pattern of prayer. Now He urged them to set aside even more time to pray further with these words.
“Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek,and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Having a model for prayer was essential. However, unless one enters into prayer, knowledge by itself would prevail not at all. Jesus gave three important principles in prayer that when practised, would add deeper meaning to efforts in prayer.
1. The principle of asking
How should one pray? The word “ask” suggests that one “inquires” after the Lord. We are surely reminded of how king David of old would inquire after the Lord in his many battles against the Philistines.
“Now when the Philistines heard that David
had been anointed king over Israel, all the
Philistines went up to search for David…
And David inquired of God saying, ‘Shall I
go up against the Philistines? Will you
deliver them up into my hand?'”
1 Chronicles 14:8, 10
David won a great victory against the Philistines because he prayed and asked the Lord for His help.
On another occasion, the Philistines attacked Israel and once again, we read of David’s immediate response. He sought the Lord in prayer.
“Then the Philistines once again made a raid
on the valley. Therefore David inquired again of God…”
1 Chronicles 14:13
One should make it a natural habit to seek the Lord in humble prayer. The Lord would be more than pleased to hear and to answer the prayers of His humble children. He would come to their rescue and deliver them from their troubles.
2. The principle of seeking
It was important that the disciples learn this principle well. Prayer is important. However, there were certain things that are responsibilities!
What if we were to pray over a certain matter but no answer is forthcoming? We must be challenged to do more than bringing the matter to God in prayer!
When Joshua led Israel to conquer Canaan, he met stiff resistance. One of the great fortified cities was Jericho. However, this mighty city was laid low because the people sought the Lord in prayer and He answered with a miracle.
However, to his great consternation, Joshua and his army were defeated by the small city of Ai! He sought the Lord in prayer in great lament over this matter, only to be told these words.
“So the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Get up!
Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel
has sinned, and they have also transgressed
My covenant which I commanded them…
Therefore the children of Israel could not
stand before their enemies…’ ”
Joshua 7:10, 12
It was up to Joshua to seek out the culprit Achan. He was the thief and the covenant-breaker that caused Israel’s army to suffer a humiliating defeat. Joshua learned a valuable lesson that day. “Asking and seeking…” were inseparable principles.
3. The principle of knocking
The word “knocking” suggests that at times doors may be shut. However, the person must not conclude too easily that since the door is shut, the avenue is now closed! The petitioner is encouraged to keep knocking till there is a definite response!
The idea behind “knocking” is that of “perseverance”. There may be times when answers come swiftly. There may be times when prayers take a little longer before they are answered. He who is wise and experienced in prayer would appreciate these words of wisdom from Jesus.
One of the finest examples of persevering in prayer must be Daniel of old. He was always given to prayer. When he was but a young man, he experienced a great and swift answer to prayer. He needed the special grace and wisdom from the Lord to interpret a dream that king Nebuchadnezzar had. The order of the king was execution of all his magicians and wise men if they could not come up with an interpretation of a dream he had. Daniel did the only thing he could. He prayed and asked God for that necessary wisdom. Swiftly, God answered his prayer (Cf. Daniel 2).
On another occasion, we read that Daniel went into a time of prolonged prayer. He wrote concerning that period of his life.
“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks…”
In great persevering prayer, Daniel knocked on the doors of heaven until the Lord sent an angel to give him the understanding he sought.
Let us be deeply challenged to be prepared to apply these three principles in the development of our prayer-life. May our walk with God deepen significantly.