The Greenhouse - Prayer
Text: Luke 18:1-8, Matthew 7:7-11 ! (February 12th, 2006)
• Intro again the Greenhouse series - 3 Foundations to help us love God:
Foundation #1 - Intimacy With Christ
Foundation #2 - Prayer
Foundation #3 - The Word
• Never give up cartoon - on screen (explain for the visually impaired)
• In terms of prayer this morning, this is what Jesus is teaching: “Never give up!” Jesus is teaching his disciples to be PERSISTENT in prayer (Stubborn). The type of prayer that secures an answer. D.L. Moody pointed out that Jesus never taught his disciples to preach, but he did teach them to pray!
• If life is all about a relationship with God than prayer is not an activity of believers, it is our conversation with the Father, our communion with Christ, our life in the Spirit! Look at the example of Jesus’ own prayer life. Likewise, disciples of Jesus are marked by an attitude of prayerful dependence.
• Video Clip from Shadowlands. Prayer for Lewis was like breathing. It was his life!
• In Mathew 7, Jesus uses 3 metaphors for prayer: Ask, Seek, Knock .
1. ASK - Simply ask! Do you have a need? Ask! “Prayer asks God to flex his muscles!”
2. SEEK - Pray with all your heart, earnestly, honestly, sincerely - without a mask.
3. KNOCK - Pray boldly, loudly if you have to!
• All these words are imperatives and are in the present tense which indicates continuous action - Continuous, persistent praying! Therefore:
KEEP ON ASKING! . . . and it will be given to you!
KEEP ON SEEKING! . . . and you will find!
KEEP ON KNOCKING! . . . and the door will be opened to you!
KEEP ON PRAYING!
One scholar calls this “beggar’s wisdom”! - A beggar is a great picture of persistence
- Day by day, corner by corner, coin by coin
• Reminds me of a persistent Shoe Shiner I once met in Chicago. His persistence more than anything else, took $$$ out of my pocket and into His!!
• This leads us to Jesus’ parable OF THE PERSISTENT WIDOW in Luke 18. (Text) In the parable it was her persistence got her justice!! She kept at him. That was Jesus’ goal in telling the story. To teach that we should always pray and not give up!
• Again to quote Moody: “Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The only way to trouble God is not to come at all”
• God is never burdened by us, which leads us back to Matthew 7. Here, Jesus uses another analogy for prayer, one from fatherhood. Verses 9 -11. - “Which of you fathers . . . “
• His point: If even in our fallen, sinful state as human beings, true, loving fatherhood can prevail, HOW MUCH MORE would God our heavenly Father, “give good gifts to those who ask Him”!!! (Luke’s account reads: “. . .give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”!!
• Jesus wants our hearts to be gripped by this truth:
God is not reluctant in answering our prayers!
He is ready to give good things! (Especially His Holy Spirit)
• He wants you and I to know his character as a loving Father and to have FULL CONFIDENCE & FAITH in His willingness to answer prayer!! Well, this begs the question. . . Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered??
• One thing that helps me with this question is that I must let God be God. I can’t expect God to always answer my prayers the way I want or the way I expect Him too. After all, He is God. He is the Potter, I am the Clay.
• Disappointed with God can come if:
1) We expect Him to act in a certain way and He doesn’t.
2) We forget that God is just, sovereign, loving, and full of mercy & that He is looking out for our best interests.
(It is easy to forget this and misinterpret His silence or slowness as malevolence)
• William Barclay - a great New Testament Scholar wrote this:
“God will always answer our prayers; but he will answer them in His way,
And His way will be the way of perfect wisdom, and of perfect love”.
• And I’ll add: “Even if we don’t agree with Him - Even if we’re not happy with His answer”! I heard this somewhere, (you probably have too):
“God always answers prayer. His answer will be a YES, NO, OR WAIT”!!
• An unknown author said it like this:
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men;
I was given weakness to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I way given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered–
I am among all men most richly blest.
Yes, God always gives us what’s best for us.
• In looking at the question, Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered, I don’t want us to miss the encouragement that Jesus is giving us in this passage about God’s readiness to answer prayer and our need to be persistent and never give up!
• We’ve learned we are not just to ask once, seek for 1 hour, or knock 3 times only! No, we are to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking - whatever that means to you, to your life, to the situations you find yourself in daily! This also has application for us corporately- as a church family. To join together in prayer. In Acts 2 - the early church was described as a group “devoted to prayer”. (Opport. to pray together)
• God desires to answer prayer. Don’t be afraid to be specific. I learned this from a professor of mine: to be specific in our prayers - God can handle details and when we see that He can - our faith is boosted!!
• Again, “Prayer doesn’t change God - It changes us”!
• Wrap Up - Illustration - George Meuller
ASK ! - And it will be given to you.
SEEK! - And you will find.
KNOCK! - And the door will be opened.
• Lord, teach us to pray. Help us to know deep in our hearts that there is nothing we can’t bring to you in prayer. Nothing! Help us to secure answers because we keep on praying. Lord, May burdens be lifted in prayer. May chains fall off through prayer. Teach us patience when your answer is WAIT. Teach us humility and submission when your answer is NO. Teach us thankfulness and Praise, when your answer is YES! To you be all the glory, In Jesus name - AMEN!