Day 8 - Effective Prayer

Day 8 - Effective Prayer

Written by: Megan Sorrow

Matthew 7:7-11
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Have you ever noticed how audacious a child can be with a parent sometimes? Usually, they have no problem asking for what they want when they want it. They have no concern for timing, or how much something might cost, or whether they deserve it or not. They just ask. Sometimes it’s not just something they want, but something they need. For example, a child does not care that it’s 3:32 am and you’re sleeping when they want a glass of water. They are going to keep crying out until you get out of bed to get what they want.

Earlier in the sermon on the mount Jesus teaches His disciples a framework for prayer. He begins with “our Father” as we should be reminded that when we pray we are to see ourselves as God’s children and that prayer is ultimately a position of a child communicating with their father. In this portion Jesus continues to emphasize this idea and gives us a picture of what effective prayer looks like in the life of a disciple of Jesus. 

In verses  7 - 9 Jesus gives us three directives of effective prayer, and three promises.
As for the first directive and promise He tells us to “ keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for”. This seems pretty straight forward. When we ask, we receive. But most would say there are lots of things we ask God for that we did not receive. So what does Jesus mean when we are to ask? 

When we ask someone for help two things are really happening. One, we become aware of our own neediness or that we lack the means to accomplish our goal. Two, we are admitting that we can’t do something on our own. We need help. 
Asking requires humility. We often miss out on the opportunity to experience the richness of prayer, because we are too filled with pride to admit our need. 

The second directive and promise says to “seek and you will find”. What does it mean to seek? When I was younger I loved to play the old pastime, hide and seek. The “seeker” was responsible for finding the “hider”. The game would not have really worked well if the seeker did not play the part of going to find the hider. In the same sense, seeking invites an active responsibility in prayer. Seeking connects our prayers with responsible action in pursuing the will of God. This means prayer is not some one sided passive conversation, but an invitation to actively pursue God’s will for our lives. 

Praying God’s will is being honest with him about what we want in prayer, but also surrendering our lives and the outcome of our prayers to him. It’s wanting our lives to align with God’s will more than our own desires. 

The last directive we see Jesus give is to “knock”. Knocking implies what all the directives Jesus mentions, persistence and perseverance. Knocking gives us this image of a door to a house. In Luke 11 Jesus tells a parable of a man who boldly and audaciously goes to a friend's house in the middle of the night to get some food for a guest. The friend turns him away, but he persists, until finally he opens the door. Jesus says “ But I tell you this - though he won’t do it for friendship sake, if you keep knocking long enough he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.”

The message is this: If the friend opened the door to his persistent neighbor to get him what he needed, how much more would our heavenly Father? Hebrews 4:16 tells us we can come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Persistence is the promise of prayer. We can ask, seek, and knock boldly because our Father loves us. He does not grow weary or annoyed with our persistence, He invites it. 

So to recap, effective prayer looks like a child speaking boldly with their Father. We can come confidently into God’s presence and ask with the authenticity of a child. 
Jesus invites us to: 
ask in humility, aware of our need and limited ability to provide for ourselves.
Seek His will, aligning our desires with God’s.
And to Knock, boldly and confidently entering His presence that in Christ we have been invited into. God is a good father, who always keeps His promises.

Spend some time today asking The Holy Spirit to reveal what you have been unwilling to seek The Lord about. Be honest about what keeps you from bringing them before Him. Make a list and commit them to prayer in this season of fasting and prayer. Be persistent and confident that our Father hears you and loves you. 

Father, thank you that I can come boldly into your presence like a kid with their dad. Thank you for hearing me prayers, and never growing weary of my persistence. You are so kind to listen, and even more gracious to respond and act. Please give me the boldness to ask, seek and knock in confidence and hope. I am believing you will do more than I could ask or imagine according to your power at work in my life. Amen.