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Persistent Prayer

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ss=MsoNormal align=right style='text-align:right'>1) 10-26-08…AM…SBC     2)“Persistent Prayer”

Matthew 7:7-11

Introduction:              

1-      Prayer is a natural act for the majority of human beings – you may not see it any other time other than a disaster or tragedy but it is there.

2-      What is not natural for us is humility

·         due to our hedonistic and selfish ways we desire to be in control and to pursue what we feel is best

·         “Prayer is an alien to our proud human nature” – Bill Hybels[1]

3-      Prayer is the display of humility before God

·         humility that bows to God’s omniscience and providence in and over our lives

Transition:  The text that we are going to look at today has long lasting implications for us as individuals and for our church.

-          it has some radical thoughts on prayer that we might not be accustomed to thinking about

This text summons us to…


Proposition:  Persistently petition our gracious God with an expectant attitude.[2]


Read Matthew 7:7-11 and Pray

 

Sermon on the Mount (Glasscock p99)

1-      Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount describes the behavior that Jesus expected for each of his disciples, who are, by virtue of their faith, a citizen of God’s future Kingdom

2-      Disciples of Christ were chosen members of God’s future Kingdom and needed to understand that Christ’s standards for their life were higher than the religious demonstrations of the religious leaders of the day.

3-      Even thought the Kingdom has not yet arrived, the Sermon on the Mount presents real standards that ought to be lived out by those that are disciples of Christ

Transition:  The first thing I want us to see in this passage is that it is restrictive in it’s application

Salvation Application (Boice p273)

1-      This passage only applies to those who are a born again child of God

2-      This means that these promises on prayer do not include everyone

3-      The commands to ask, seek and know can very literally be interpreted you ask, you seek, you knock

4-      The “you” of each of these commands is defined by the overall context of the Sermon on the Mount

5-      These promises are only for those in whose hearts God has performed the miracle of new birth or salvation

6-      If you know that you are not a child of God here today then these promises are not for you

7-      Because you are living as the enemy of God what is awaiting for you at death is punishment by God in hell forever

8-      But this can all change if you choose to embrace the truth of John 1:12

 

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

9-      If you know that you have never received Christ as your Lord and Savior to preserve your soul from hell then I would ask you to do something…

a-      during this message think about the course of your own life and the where living without God has gotten you so far

b-      Receive Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior during the sermon

c-      after the service come talk to me and I will show you how you can know salvation and experience all the wonderful blessing of a wonderful God

Transition:       For those of us who would fall into the category of being one of God’s Children let’s investigate this passage

1) The Action of the Seeker                  v7-8

A-    Wherever you are in your relationship with Christ this passage is given to press you forward in your prayer life

1-      This passage is to encourage all of us to pray more confidently and more boldly

2-      This passage is to confront our timidity in thinking that we are too small and insignificant for God to be concerned with us and our needs

B-    The commands of this verse all imply continual persistence in prayer – continue to ask, continue to seek, continue to knock

·         note the rising scale of intensity beginning with asking

1-      Ask = a request by an inferior to a superior

2-      Seek = seeking is asking plus acting

3-      Knock = knocking is asking plus acting plus persevering

Ø      The promise that will be fulfilled when we obey these three command is directly parallel to the command itself

·         Asking leads to receiving—Seeking leads to finding—Knocking leads to opening

Ø      In this passage the condition for answered prayer is persistence

Imagine a little child:             

1-      Trying to tie his shoes—trying to ride a bike—trying to do their homework

o       the child sitting in the living room trying his hardest to resolve the problem realizes his helplessness and asks for help by calling out for His father

 

o       When he listens and doesn’t receive a response, he gets up and begins to seek out help from His father

·         His asking is getting more intense now

·         he seeks in the kitchen, the garage and the basement without finding Him

·         then he hears voices coming from up stairs and he seeks out his father finding him in his bedroom

·         there is only one problem – the door is locked

o       The little boy, so intent on his need for help, knocks on the door

o       There he finds His Father, now fully aware of His need, eager to provide the help the boy so desperately needs

Ø      It is now at this point in Jesus’ teaching that the emphasis shifts from the one seeking help to the one providing the help

Secondly we see…

2) The Portrait of the Father              v9-11

A-    We see a proper portrait of God when we see him in contrast to our earthly fathers

1-      The illustration of v9-10 reveal this to us

2-      The teaching here is that generally a dad will give good gifts to his kids

3-      He will not give him a stone instead of break or a snake instead of fish

B- The Application     v11

1-      Jesus teaches on the depravity of man (“you who are evil”)

2-      There is no evil in our heavenly Father – unlike our earthly fathers

3-      God will give us things way better than any earthly father with sin ever could

4-      He will never give us what is bad for us

5-      If you desire to do anything good for your kids just think about how much more you perfect heavenly father is eager to do good things for His children

6-      Take heart that God has none of the sins of your Father and has none of the limitations or weaknesses of your Father

7-      Don’t ever limit your understanding of the Fatherhood of God to the experience of your own father no matter how good he was

 

Ø      In contrast we are to realize the superior nature of our heavenly Father to our earthly father

Ø      We are also to realize the similar nature of the two in that they both desire to give us what is good for us

 

 

Transition:  Now what does all that mean for you and I

1.      Jesus encourages us to pray by showing us that our heavenly Father is better than your earthly Father

2.      This gives us hope (confidence) in prayer

3.      This means that our prayer life is to be active and consistent because we have a Father that hears us, and not only hears us but is anxious to provide good things to us

4.      One more idea needs to be mentioned and that is the idea of “good” in v11

a-      this is not a free open guarantee that you will get all that you ask for because you think it is good

b-      “good” means that which is useful, satisfactory for one’s needs

c-      God may not always give us what we ask for because the request was for a good thing.

d-     the promise is not that God will give us what is asked for, but what is good for us

 

Conclusion:

 

Ø      Wherever you are in your relationship with Christ this passage is given to press you forward in your prayer life

Ø      Will you commit to deepening your prayer life with greater consistency?

Ø      Let us not forget how our Heavenly Father, being great than our earthly father, is there to graciously answer our prayers based on what is useful for us.


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[1] Hybels: To Busy Not to Pray, 9.

[2]Craig Blomberg, vol. 22, Matthew, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 129.

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