Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why We Should Pray

Part 24 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 7:7-11

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (v. 7). 

The Greatest Invitation

Imagine being invited to meet your favourite celebrity. We wouldn’t ignore that invitation. Every child of God is invited to enter God’s presence through prayer, but we often ignore that invitation. “The greatest invitation in the world is extended to us, and incomprehensibly we regularly turn away to other things.” [1]


Jesus invites us to pray by telling us to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.” In the original Greek, these three words are in the present tense, which means that Jesus is talking about habitual prayer (i.e., keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking). Why should we pray?

God is our loving Father and will give us good things when we pray. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly refers to God as our Father. For example, Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name” (6:9). Generally, parents want to give good things to their children (like a father gives his son bread and fish, not a stone and a serpent, vv. 9-10).  Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (v. 11). 

Anything We Want?

Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (vv. 7-8). Is Jesus promising that God will give us anything we ask for in prayer? No, though this is a popular teaching. [2] Grant Osborne calls this teaching “materialism made spiritual” and comments that it is “incredibly dangerous, indeed heretical, because it says we control God.” [3]

Only Good Things

The promise that Jesus gives us is that God will give us “good things,” not anything we want. We are often like little children, asking our Father for things we think are good but are actually bad.

God’s “no” is always a good thing.

God is perfectly good, so he always desires what is good for us. God is perfectly wise, so he always knows what is good for us. And God is perfectly strong, so he is able to do what is good for us. 

Prayer Works!

There are many biblical examples of people who were frustrated with prayer. One of these was the prophet Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet complaining to God about unanswered prayer: “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2). Frustration with prayer is common. We don’t know exactly how prayer works, but what we do know is that Scripture promises that prayer does work.

When we pray, we must not forget that God is our Father and that he loves us and wants what is best for us. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

[1] John Piper, “Ask Your Father in Heaven,” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/ask-your-father-in-heaven.
[2] Other Scripture passages used to support this teaching are Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15.
[3] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, 264.

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