Prayer

Faith Church August 1, 2009 Matthew 7:7-11

 

Introduction:

-  We are continuing our series this morning on: Finding Hope in the Promises of God

- two weeks ago we studied 1 Cor. 10:13:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

-  We can find . . . .

  I.  Hope: All Situations Are Common to Man

 II.  Hope: God is Faithful

III.  Hope: It’s Not More Than You Can Handle

IV.  Hope:  There Is a Way of Escape

 V.  Hope: There Is a Purpose – to ‘endure’

- I trust that study was helpful to you and challenging to you!

- Last week we focused on 2 Corinthians 12:9: Finding Hope in God’s Sufficient Grace

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

-  We need to remember God keeps ALL His promises because He is holy:

- We looked at what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:16 ‘You shall be holy for I am holy’ – and how Peter was quoting Moses’ writings in Lev. 11:44-45

- Today, our study takes us to the Sermon on the Mount – the life of Christ when He was preaching to the disciples

- the context of our study starts in Matthew 5:1-2

  • Matthew 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them…

1.  The whole point of theses chapter (5,6,and 7) is about kingdom living!

 – i.e. what God expects us to do as a result of being a part of His kingdom and His family!

- when a person follows Christ, his/her is should show EVIDENCE of change & growth!

2.  Part of what Jesus taught the disciples had to do with prayer!

Input: Why is this such an important topic in God’s Word?

-  it’s also part of our ministry to each other:

  •  James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Q: What do you do when you get a church email with a prayer request?

  • Read it & delete it?
  • Read it & pray & then delete it?

- what if you were the one with the request – you would want people to pray!

- I thought, what if that were Keri?

Point:  When you’re in a situation where you need help or hope, do you turn to God and PRAY?

3.  Prayer is one of the disciplines of the Christian life

- time in the Word (read/study/memorize . . .OBEY!)

- faithful to local church (serving – using your gifts)

- faithful to worship God

- evangelism – sharing your faith with others!

- PRAYER

4.  What if your prayer life = true spiritually

Q:  How would you rate? [growing OR NOT growing]

Q:  What would God say about your prayer life?

[READ Matthew 7:7-11 – Finding Hope in the Promises of Prayer]

- Let’s think about the HOPE that Jesus gives us through prayer!

I.  Hope: God Commands Us to Pray! – v. 7-8

- Jesus made a very clear invitation later in Matthew when He invites us to ‘come to Him’:

  • Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

- the Psalmist often referred to ‘calling upon the Lord’:

  • Psalm 18:3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
  • Psalm 55:16 As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me.
  • Psalm 105:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name . . .

- Think about the specific words Jesus uses in this situation with the disciples

A. Three Key Words: Ask, Seek, Knock

- We not only have an invitation, but Jesus tells us exactly what do and what will happen if we do what He tells us to do!

- All 3 of the words Jesus used are in an imperative mode (i.e. these are ….)

1.  These are commands

- notice that each word could be literally translated:

  • Ask = be continually asking . . .
  • Seek = be continually seeking . . .
  • Knock = be continually knocking . . .

- Yes, God invites us to pray, He makes it possible, He encourages us to pray – but He also commands us to pray

- so you can choose to REJECT that command, but to do is disobedience

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some ask, “If God is sovereign, and He’s going to do what pleases Him, then WHY do we need to pray?”

Answer: Because He commands us to pray!!

[Note: You might not fully understand, just DO IT – i.e. PRAY!!]

2.  Prayers can be progressive

- Jesus goes from simply ‘asking’ (you can stand still and do that!)

- but then He moves to ‘seeking’ (which requires more aggressiveness/effort; going to look for something)

- to finally, ‘knocking’ (which requires more effort and purpose – urgency!!)

* The asking, seeking, knocking reveals our seriousness in praying to God!

 - it’s not that asking is less spiritual than knocking – it just simply reveals how far are we willing go to get God to help us . . . especially at His command!

- we also have to remember that…

B.  Prayer is reserved for God’s children!

everyone’ refers to those who belong to the heavenly Father – they know Jesus

- throughout the book of Matthew (especially in the Sermon on the Mount), the focus is on those of God’s kingdom and those in God’s family

  • Kingdom = emphasizes God’s authority
  • Family = emphasizes the relationship

- prayer is special invitation to those who truly know God to come to Him

- He is our FATHER . . . we are part of God FAMILY

* The God of the heavens hears our prayers!

Input: What are some of the attributes of God that should give us HOPE and motivate us to pray?

[various answers: Omnipotence, Omniscience, Grace, Mercy, Love, Sovereign…]

- the only prayer an unbeliever can make is one of repentance/confession for salvation!

- Not only does God command us to pray, we have hope because . . . .

II.  Hope: God Answers our Prayers! – v. 7-8

- He always has an answer, but . . .

A.  Not always the exact way you think!

- in general, God’s answers to our prayers are: YES, NO, WAIT, YES BUT . . .

- and some think that just because I asked God for something ONCE means I ought to get an answer from Him right away

- that may happen sometimes, but remember the literal translation of these words: BE CONTINUALLY asking, seeking, knocking!

- you can’t always be certain about HOW God is going to answer your prayer

- but . . .

B. We can be certain of this:

- using other passages to help us properly interpret this one, James made it clear…

1.  We don’t have because we do not ask!

  • James 4:2 . . . You do not have because you do not ask.

- but just because we ASK does not guarantee a positive answer because…

2.  We ask, but we ask for the wrong reasons!

  • James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

C.  Remember the right way to pray:

- that’s why when we pray, we need to keep in mind:

1.  Pray: In the name of Jesus

- to a Jewish person, a name really means a lot – it communicates a message

[Example: ‘Cephas’ = stone, changed to ‘Peter’ = rock

  • John 14:13 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
  •  John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
  • John 16:23 "In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”

Point: Praying as Jesus said, ‘in My name’ is speaking on His behalf! So ask yourself this Q:

Q: Would Jesus ask for this request?

A:  Depends on the glory of God – that’s what He was/is concerned about!

- but we also need to learn from Jesus’ prayer the night before He was crucified

2.  Pray: Not my will, but Your will be done!

- it’s not about what we WANT, but what will bring the most glory to God

- we don’t tell the Potter what to do, the Potter determines what is best for the CLAY (us)

- as part of this process, we do need to . . .

B.  Connect the promises to the commands

- what does Jesus say will happen if we do what He says we should do?

  • Ask . . . and it will be given to you!
  • Seek . . . and you will find
  • Knock . . . and it will be opened

* Point: God answers our prayers in His time and in His way for His glory and for our good!

- And to give us even more hope, we have an example to follow

III. Hope: God Models What He Expects from Us! – v. 9-11

[READ vs. 9-11]

A. He doesn’t give stones when we ask for bread.

- imagine the damage that would do your son’s teeth (pain, suffering)

- the question is a rhetorical question – an obvious NO FATHER WOULD DO THAT

B.  He doesn’t give snakes when we ask for fish.

- this is not referring to a live snake (poisonous) but cooked snake meat to make it look OK, but in Lev. 11:12, snake was NOT acceptable to each to the Jew – it was ceremonially unclean

- Let’s read v. 11 again:

  • Matthew 7:11 "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!”

“There is no limit to what our heavenly Father will give to us when we ask in obedience and according to His will.[1]

Faith Church