“Ask, and it will 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.”
And good morning. It is great to be with you this morning. The what’s happening let me nerd out just for a second. What’s happening theologically. While we gather to worship, we don’t. Just sing to God this moment that we have, when we gather to say, I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God is a confession of worship from person to God, but we learn in Colossians there’s more going on.
It says to bring a song, a him, a spiritual song to be sung one to another. So we are singing our worship with God, but worship is a team sport. We are also singing to one another. So this, this young family block that’s like stuck over here. Okay. I don’t know what, how you took over, but like over here, you’re confessing as your raising your children as your living your lives.
You’re confessing to this group, which is much more diverse by the way, over here, you’re confessing something and you’re building the trust of God in one another. This is why we gather this is why we gather together. Because together with one voice, we worship our God and we confess the testimony of truth.
One to another. It is a Juul. To be with you this morning. I’m ready for fall off. Let’s get this thing. All right. Okay. We are in Matthew chapter seven. We are in the sermon on the Mount we’re in the last chapter. Partially. If I had my way, we, then we just start with chapter five over again. I love the sermon on the Mount.
Love the teaching of Jesus found here, but you’ll meet us there in Matthew chapter seven. There’s a man named who conducted a now famous experiment. Jang realized how little that he enjoyed asking things of other people, how he would go so far out of his way to never inconvenience or ask anything from anyone.
Jang as a method of self exposure, he did a method of self exposure therapy, which eventually turned into a big internet thing. And then also ended up in the now famous Ted talk on this. What he did is he decided to do a series of exposure therapy experiments. And for he did 100 in 100 days, he did 100 crazy requests to other people so that he could overcome his fear of asking of them.
These included asking a stranger to borrow $100, asking for a burger refill, asking to be a weather person on live TV, asking to race a random. Asking to plant a flower in someone’s yard and all of these different random asks and he like journaled on this exp uh, experiment, what it did inside of him. And one of the things he found out is that when you ask crazy things, people often give the crazy answer.
Okay. And so it’s a fascinating read or fascinating watch on his experiment. I listened to years ago and dug up again this week to watch this realizing, asking things of other people is something that is difficult for me, but there’s another neglect in my asking that is something much deeper for me.
This sense of self-trust hating risk hating the disappointment of being told no. Impacts my life with God. Another sermon that I dug up this week was from 20 years ago of a man who talked on prayer. And in this sermon, I was reminded against reminded 20 years ago. And then when I dug it up this week to just listen to this patriarch of the faith for me talk on prayer, I was reminded how hard it is for me to ask big things of God, this man Howard Hendricks, many of you know him, prolific author came and spoke.
And he said this quote that has resonated very much with me. He said, if you were anything like me, the one area in your Christian life in which you are constantly shot down in flames is your prayer life. He went on to talk about the spiritual forces that keep us from our lives of prayer. James four two says you do not have, because you do not ask God.
Charles Spurgeon says prayer does not enable the greater works. Prayer is the greater work in this passage. We have Jesus teaching us on how to pray when you are in need. This, then Jesus says is how we are to ask of God. This is one of the great attacks. Perhaps the greatest attack we have on our faith is keeping God’s people from praying.
I’m going to read Matthew chapter seven, seven through 12. It’s in your pew Bible. If you brought your Bible this morning, I’m supposed to be clicking something and I don’t know what I’m supposed to click, but I’m clicking. I’m telling you what I want you to know that I’m turning off turning on. Oh, it doesn’t go there.
I’m watching that TV show you way too much. Okay. Here’s the, here’s the text. Matthew chapter seven verses seven through 11 ask. And it will be given to you seek and you will find knock, and it will be open to you for everyone who asks, receives. And the one who seeks, find into the one who knocks it will be opened.
Or which of you, if his son asks for some bread will give him a stone or if he asks for a fish will give him a. 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 gifts to those who ask him father. We come today to learn from your son to learn from your son.
What does it mean to pray? We thank you for how you continually have raised up in this room. People who pray and at the same time, we’re all discovering deeper in of what it means to pray. And we pray that we ask. We pray that this moment learning from you, that you might give us wisdom into these words in the name of Jesus.
We pray amen. Five questions that I want to approach as we look at this text. And if you’ve got your Bible. Yeah, you gotta mark this thing up. This passage is so cool. If you got, if you don’t have a Bible, grab a pew Bible use on your phone, but stay with the texts. I was trying to think of how do we just keep the texts on screen and it’s difficult to do when we’re making other points, but stay with this text, right?
Don’t let’s not learn just, Hey, does Ben have some insights into this? Keep with the. Because these words of Jesus are what we want to learn from. He is the one who is preaching the sermon and who we want to be continually going back to, what did he say about prayer? First question is who is talking, as we said, this is Christ talking, but not only is this Christ talking.
He is talking as the master of prayer. Jesus lived a life of prayer, 29 different times in the new Testament, we have prayers of Jesus or moments when Jesus went away from teaching, went away from miracle. Ling, went away from being with people to go pray over and over. As you look 29 different times within these four gospels, we see instances where Jesus is praying out loud in front of people, publicly or withdrawing and praying privately.
He lived a life of prayer. Not only. He taught on prayer 22 times in the new Testament, Jesus taught. This is what it means to pray Jesus. So connected to the father continually was seeking to bridge a relationship between man kind and the father so much. So he gave of himself. And in that process, as he would go, come to live to die, to rise again, he taught, this is how the prayer connection works.
22 times new Testament, three of those times are. In Matthew chapter five, six and seven. Most recently, pastor Jim spoke on the Lord’s prayer. Wonderful sermon again, how we should pray. There’s a passage in Matthew five, one in Matthew six. And now here in Matthew seven, these famous words of Christ are specifically about how to.
When we need something from God, question is how do we, oh, I’m sorry. Also Jesus lives now a life of prayer. This is Hebrews seven, Romans eight, that Jesus lives now in the presence of the father interceding on our behalf, it is this Christ that we learn from, as we learn to pray. Second question. How do I pray when I am need?
There are different types of prayer. This was a conversation we had this last Monday. We were in the car and my 11 year old randomly said this, Hey, how come we pray? If God controls everything? And I thought the same thing you would think if you were preaching this Sunday, oh, I’m going to use this Sunday.
Right? So I didn’t give an answer. I just filed it. How come we pray if God controls everything. And so in the silence of me being like, all right, there’s this illustration one down my eight year old pops up and says maybe just to be with him, that’s an adorable answer. Okay. That’s worth every one of those.
All. It’s not exactly theologically sound, but it’s a great answer, right? We do pray to be with God. That is true. We learned even when a pastor Jim was talking of a few, couple of months ago on the Lord’s prayer, right? There is different reasons that we pray. We pray to worship our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Jesus says, pray like this. We pray to submit our wills to him that will be done by kingdom. Come on earth. As it is in heaven. We pray for different reasons other than just needing something from. But we would be remiss in this text and many others. If prayer does not have an impact on life than it is to be with God, it is to share life in relationship with God.
But Jesus says prayer is also because we need something from him. Noticing the passage you ask. Why? Because you don’t have you seek why? Because you can’t find you knock. Why? Because the door is shut. You’re coming to cry. Coming to God through Christ is saying God in prayer includes those moments. So when we say, God, I need you to work.
Not all prayer is asking things of. This is. So how do we, how do we ask things that we need from God? A few things in the text. The first is this persistence. There’s a verb tense that’s being used as present, active, indicative. I know that means so much to you, but, but let me just talk about this. All right.
Present active. I’m sorry. Present active imperative. Imperative is what what’s imperative. It’s a command, right? It’s saying you ask, ask, cause it’s you second person, plural. It’s saying plural. You, you, people of God ask of God, seek of God, knock on the door of God. This is a command being, given the activist saying that you do the.
You are the ones acting, you are the ones going to God, but the present is the most important here because we lose it more in the English language, the present. And it’s so important for new Testament verbs. It can mean a past completed action, which is how we normally in English communicate present action verbs.
I was falling present in English. The present in Greek is more, is more frequently. I am falling or I fall, like I continually fall like Dennis, right? I mean, but it’s this sense of like a continued action that happens when we are looking for, it’s not just. Seek knock. It’s continual be asking of God, be seeking God, be knocking at the door of God in the sister text or connected test text.
Luke uses the same words, ask, seek, and knock in this present active imperative in this passage in Luke chapter 11 says this. And he said to them, which of you, which of you who, which of you has a friend who will go to him at midnight and say, friend lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.
He will answer from within, do not bother me. The door is now shut and my children are in bed with me. I cannot get up and give you anything. I tell you though, he will not get up and give him anything because he’s his friend yet because of his impudence, he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you seek and you will find knock and the door will be open to you.
This passage that Jesus is talking about is asking for persistent prayer, Howard Hendricks. The one I mentioned preaching a message on prayer 20 years ago that had such a profound impact on me. Do a quote I used in the beginning, he did an experiment that has been with me ever since he used a discipleship group of 12 guys who the seminary professor had to discipleship group 12 guys, and he wanted to do an experiment on prayer.
And he said, what I want you to do 12 guys. I want you to come back in one week with a three by five card. And I want you to come back with the names of people you think will never find their way. They will never be ever. They will never confess Jesus as their Lord. These give me the impossible ones you think, oh, never will they give up?
Self-reliance in order for Christ and four weeks, all they did with these people in the car through no other means, all they did was pray. After a long time, they had 69 names. 37 of them came to faith. In a matter of months through only the means of prayer. Hendrix said this, following it up, simply words that reverberated in my soul, ladies and gentlemen, we have not begun to understand the power of prayer where prayer focuses power fall.
Persistently we pray. Secondly, how do we pray when we’re in need in need with passionate trust, check out the Greek of these guys. The definition of terms this word ask is , which has asked petition or even demand seek is search knock Harris. That day is to knock or beat a door with a stick. I love this.
It’s not Laura. I really would love this. It is literally to take a staff and it’s used for this and to beat a door it’s very similar to what is probably happening in the Luke passage, right? It’s not, Hey, could you wake up and give me some bread? Like I got an awkward situation. I need some bread for my friend.
Who’s coming to town. No, it’s that that person was beating so hard on the door. The stick, the guide didn’t want his kids to wake up. So he finally relented. This is Jesus communicating how to pray. I had a friend, Sam, such a humble guy, and he would pray like this and he would pray, God, I know you’re really busy and you got a lot going on and I’m just Sam here.
But if you could, I’d love it if you could. And then he would pray. That is really humble and really bad theology. Right? What, what God is saying here is beat down the door with a stick, invest yourself in prayer. When you’re knocking down a knocking on a door with the stick, it’s hard to be like, I’m going to see what’s on the other thing on the phone, right.
It’s hard to, to be doing other things, this passionate trust. It’s an investment of a person. And I know oftentimes when I’m praying for people, I’m like, oh, I’m supposed to pray for this. Or I pray to Smith and bless them. And then them, and then just, just bless them, bless them. This guy bless him, Lord.
Right. And, and that’s okay. Right? Like we get through our lists and we’re doing things and we’ve got things, but this type of prayer, when we need from God, it is a full focus involvement as a person, God, I need your help. I will invest myself like someone waking his neighbor from their slumber. Lord, I need you here.
Jesus. In Hebrews chapter five, speaking of Jesus, it says this in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered his prayers up when supplication with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death. And he was heard because of his reverence. Now I don’t think passionate trust just means volume or just means who can say things.
The loudest, I think passionate trust this knocking on the door with the stick is this sense of, I can’t get this door down any other way. God. I trust and invest my whole self into this work of prayer. Lastly, how to pray when I’m I need in need is purpose James four, two and three. We mentioned this earlier.
You do not have, because you do not ask God. James says, when you ask you do not receive different words in words of Christ, because he says this because you ask with wrong motives that what you may spend, what you get on your pleasures. God is a loving father, not a magic genie. We will always be disappointed in prayer.
If we use it for the purpose of our ego or our false treasures. Second question. How to pray when we are in need. Third question is. Why does prayer work? Why does prayer work back to Atticus’s question that I didn’t really answer well on Monday. Why does this work? And if you’re following along in your notes, you also can put a slash here and put who is this passage really all about?
You see this passage is about prayer. These passage is an imperative of how God’s people are to pray. But this passage is ultimately about the father it’s ultimately as Jesus. So many of Jesus’s teaching are many of you wrote through the book of John and you wrote through the whole book of John a few months ago, we did it as a church and over and over, you see in the book of John, Jesus loves talking about his dad.
Jesus over and over is talking about the father, the importance of, of, of two people. How important the father is that isn’t, this is another one of those texts. Ultimately, this is what the passage I believe is about. I’m going to just say this real quick. Why does prayer work that this passage is not about magic, the magic formula of how to get God to do things.
This passage is about get grasping how much God knows and loves to care for your needs. This is what enables all through prayer. This passage again is not about a magic formula. It’s about the father who loves to see know and care for your needs. And that is what enables all true. Paul Miller wrote a phenomenal book called the life of prayer.
And in that he talks about, he’s talking about, listen, I’m not some super spiritual guy, I’m a guy, but through things in his own life, God transformed his life deeper into a praying life. And in that he talked about the struggle of what it means to be a man who is committed and continually in prayer.
Paul trip about this book and about this struggle has a wonderful quote. It says this talking about this struggle of prayer. It is the story of our struggle to actually live. Like we believe that our heavenly father really does love us. If we. Nothing could keep us from being committed to the day by day hard work of prayer.
Look at these verses. Why does prayer work? Jesus says which one of you of his son asks for bread will give him a stone. Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent. If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those that ask him?
Jesus is saying, okay, I want to tell you about the father. First. Let’s talk about normal dads, right? Y’all normal dads is what are you saying to these people gathered? He’s saying there’s a lot of dads here. This is how normal dads operate. He said normal dads. They don’t want harm for their kids. Right? If normal dads don’t say, Hey, I really want, I really want to fish.
I’m going to give you a snake. He’s saying, okay, that’s not normal, but for normal approach to children, We do not want harm for our kids first 10. Secondly, there’s a sense of normal that know their child have an awareness. So what child that your child would like, and not like verse 12, the normal dads would having an awareness of knowing who their children are, know how to give gifts to their child.
He’s saying that’s the setup of a father, child relationship, but then he just uses these words. I love how much more, how much more. He said, that’s, that’s the normal dads. We’ve got evil and all kinds of other stuff going on. They still want this, but there’s a much more father, not just like normal dads, the much more father also desires, no harm and can prevent it.
Wow. Jesus lost a really, really big leg of an argument. Right. Couldn’t Jesus have said, this is why you ask of God, because if not, he will get his smoking on. He will be all smoked on you. Right? And he’s the biggest toughest strongest. You pray. Why? Because he can harm you right away. It takes out that leg of argument.
He’s saying just like normal dads don’t want harm. The father is not about harm. He does not want to harm you. The mobilization of prayer is. Terror or the mobilization of prayer is the goodness of the much more father. The much more father completely knows his child. Just a few passages earlier knows every hair on their heads and loves to give agathos is the Greek word here?
It’s intrinsically good. Fully good. Good. All the way loves to give fully good gifts. What does God delight in God? The much more father delights in giving good gifts to his children? The much more father’s goal is not to ruin your life. It’s not to leave you in depression over your sin. It’s not to work you to the misery bone in Christian service.
The much more father does not want a snake bit life for you. John Piper in a beautiful book, desiring God talks about joint ventures and he talks about his great desire for the glory of God. And he talks about this internal constant desire. He had to be sold deep happy, and he talks about the revolution of his face when he realized those are joint ventures, reading in the book of acts right now, my wife and I are going through, and there’s a lot of things happening.
There’s like people being killed by their faith in prison for their faith. There’s, there’s a lot of difficult things happening in the book of acts, but the word that’s just all over. There’s just so much joy. There’s so much deep seated joy because where the father is, there is joy and joy marks a life of prayer, not dread, not, oh, I got to do this because it’s supposed to be an oh.
And he listened to that perse sermon on Sunday. Right? It’s as an invitation, Jesus says, why do we pray? Why do we pray? Because it makes a difference because doors get open, things get found. This is why we pray. We ask, seek and knock because it has an impact. Why? Because the joyous much more father just loves to give good things to his kids.
George Mueller, who’s a famous. Man of prayer led an orphanage. I’m sure if you’ve been around here a little while, you’ve heard of George Mueller, basically he led an orphanage and raised the food and the needs of all of these individual people. So close to God by praying and over and over, he believed the way we do this is by prayer.
He said this the first and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.
When we know that God really loves us. That is when we pray. That is when, in our needs, which are our very vulnerabilities. We say, yeah, I can’t do this. I got to go to the one I trust the much more father who just loves to give good gifts to his kids. Now there’s a painful question here. And if you’ve probably already felt it, even as we’re talking and looking at this passage, what about when it sounds like God says no.
What about when I prayed for my child, that they might know Jesus and they don’t. What about when I prayed for my mom who wouldn’t pass from cancer and she died? What about when I prayed for a spouse? When I begged God for a child and I remained single or Baron, where are Jesus’s formulaic words? Where is the much more.
Am I not pounding hard enough long enough. Why are there seasons of faith where walls seem to fall down the sick get well and seasons where they don’t. This is the painful question. It’s not in the text, but I think it’s important to address what happens when the much more father gives me much less than what I thought I needed.
Answers are not easy here. This question sounds universal, but unresolved pain is intensely personal, not just pain in general. It’s the loss that I feel now. It’s the unanswered prayer I have not seen answered until now. It’s the unheard unresolved, unrelenting suffering of those. And I’d be trite and honestly, pretty cruel to try to just throw giant theological principles at you in this short amount of time.
The couple of things, I just want to say one church father lived in early four hundreds. Uh, I don’t know how to say his name. I’m going to have to read it. Daya docus of pho TKI. Didn’t win a lot of awards in that one. One of the signers of the council of Chalcedon, perhaps the greatest document that we have outside of scripture about the preeminence of Christ.
He talks on this about, on answer prayer that seems unanswered or seems like good prayer that gets told no talks about educated desolation. It’s worth looking, looking up and understanding some of his thoughts here, but really quickly. My own story for me, God has done as much. Good. For me in seasons of unresolved prayer as he have, when he has come through quickly, when he has said, no, he has also immensely shaped my life for the good, a personal story, because I think it’s important to be in personal stories in the Psalms are so crucial when dealing with this question, because David wrestles with this, the whole book, but I just want to take you to one that has meant so much to me when I have not understood why God would not answer the door quicker.
It’s this from second Corinthians 12 from the Paul, he says I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me three times. I pleaded with the Lord to take it away. But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in my weaknesses and insults in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties for when I am weak there I am strong. We don’t have a chance to walk through this, but quickly when God withholds, what seems like good things, it is often to give the greater thing of himself.
Sometimes not what we thought we wanted, but it is the greatest gift that we can receive. Question five, there’s a secondary application of these words. This is kind of a funny passage. Actually. It seems like the passages. And then there’s these words that are included by Jesus. So after going through and, and, uh, talking about ask and receiving and, and the character of the father and why he gives it, says this at the very end.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them for this is the law and the profits now in your Bible, that might be a part of a new section. But I think it actually is a part of this previous section because of the word. So, right. It’s making a point about praying and making a point about the character of the father, and then use the word.
So, so do this, which seems like a funny place for this application. Again, whatever you wish others do to you do to them. This sums up the law of the profits. Here’s my understanding of what’s going on when the father. Who doesn’t want harm, who completely knows and completely gives good gifts when your life is so blessed by the father.
So in turn live that way to others, don’t do harm to others. Don’t wish harm upon others. Don’t do harm upon others in your own soul, with your judgements towards them, know the needs of those around you. Like the father. Does you and give really good gifts to others as the much more father delights to do good to you, delight to do good to others.
Join the much more father and his unconditional love to those who around this sums up the entirety of the law and the prophets. Jesus said, this is the much more culture in the kingdom of God. The culture. That’s not bound by fear. It’s not bound by lack of resources. It’s not bound by. I have to protect otherwise.
I’m going to get attacked. It’s a belief that there’s enough to go around. It’s a belief that the much more father is enough for every one in this culture. In this kingdom, there’s no rich or poor. There’s no haves or have nots. There are just those who are on the inside. There is enough to go around in this much more nervous culture.
This is the culture of no harm. This is the culture of deep knowing. This is the culture of giving good gifts.
who I started the sermon talking about with the hundred different accrual crest requests to weird asks of people. Actually, if you look for the video, it’s called a hundred days of. Because that was what was really going on for him asking was hard because deep down he realized he had a deep fear of being rejected.
I think that really plays into our prayer life. I really do. I think, deep down when we have these large needs, we know how do we know? Cause what we worry about is when we think about when we’re not really thinking about anything, how am I going to get this accomplished or fix this or figure this. And then we think, why am I not praying about this?
Why? Because deep down, I think if I can figure this out, that’s probably better. We’re afraid. Oftentimes if we take to God, these things that he might in turn reject or disappoint us in some way, my challenge about prayer, simple God’s allowed needs in your life. There’s places where you’re asking you have like, you don’t have answers.
And with the words of Jesus. Ask their sings. You’re searching for whether it be hope or peace or, or, or it’s some resolution to a conflict you’re searching. What can, how can we figure this out or where there’s a financial difficulty in your searching for answers? What I’d say is seek there’s places where you got a door slammed in your face, right?
And you’re trying windows, you’re trying to Jerry lake the rock, you’re trying to smash your car into the door. You’re trying to anything humanly possible to get past whatever this door is and what I’d say, Jesus is like, I love that door. Knock, beat it down with a stick of prayer. So my challenge is if God’s given you those God-given opportunities, once you take a hundred days, take a hundred days and pray for it every day with persistence, pray for it within passion trust.
Do I know what God’s going to do? But when God’s people pray, God does you say, well, what if God doesn’t answer the best person I’ve ever known to handle the difficulty of one answer prayer is God going to him through that enables deeper trust. It’s an amazing how he works that. So that would be my challenge this morning.
Take those chances, give it a hundred days. See what God does. We stand as you receive the blessing for today. Whereas you may have heard from me before probably say them again. They’re words that I believe enable all through prayer. They’re words that I believe are the very mechanism are speaking to the truth.
That is the very reality, which is why we pray and why when receiving from God, we live that culture out to other people. It is this true. You are not what you make. You are not what you do. You are not defined by the pile of things you have accomplished, or the pile of things that you haven’t. You are not what your highest ego moment flexes or what’s your lowest moment.
Despairs. You have so much more, you are so much more. You are the beloved of God dearly beloved from that positional place. Blood bought by Christ Jesus live lives of trust, live lives of prayer. Great to be with you this morning. We are.