Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lent #9 - Persistence in Prayer

7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." 

(Matthew 7:7-12)


In the gospel passage, Jesus speaks of the importance of prayer and the fact that no prayer goes unanswered. While we may not always be happy with the answer we receive, we do still receive an answer to our prayer, an answer which God deems to be best for us in our situation.


Ask seems to refer to simple petition, with the promise "it will be given to you."

One of the lessons Jesus is teaching us is to ask for the things we desire, rather than just trying to seize them on our own. One thing we eventually learn as children is that for some things the answer is always, "No." We learn not to ask any further. We also learn that in some areas if we ask, and conditions are right, we will receive. As we listen to our parents, we are educated in what to ask for and how to ask.

We don't learn these things by keeping quiet. We learn by continuing to ask, and gradually learning our parents' mind, and asking according to what we perceive to be their mind. The Apostle John wrote,
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us -- whatever we ask -- we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)


Seek," however, indicates a search for something that is either lost or has not yet been found or discovered. "Seek, and you will find," Jesus says.

Seeking can be frustrating, but we must not give up. Jesus has told us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness

The seeking process is a maturing process, a sifting process, and - if we continue and don't give up -becomes a single-minded Quest to know God. "Seek, and you will find." There is a promise here that if we will seek to know the Lord, and seek after his presence and blessing, we will find it. There is a looking that can be frustrating, but we are not to give up because we will find Him if we seek him with all our heart.


The third command is "Knock, and the door will be opened to you." Basically, knocking is confined to closed doors, not open ones. You've faced closed doors in your life, ones you sought desperately to open or reopen. Some of them you have banged on again and again. But then you learn to try other doors to see which one God will open. We are to continue to knock on doors until God opens to us the opportunity he has in mind.

It's pretty clear that the emphasis Gospel is on continuous action in prayer and it is part of what Jesus intended.


Father, help us to learn persistence in prayer, seriousness about our requests before you - and so obey Jesus in our prayers and our faith. Forgive us for wimpy, wispy prayers that we forget soon after praying them. Teach us to ask, to seek, to knock - continually. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

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