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Due to the modern perception of entitlement and immediate gratification every time, there’s an assumption that God will bend over backwards in overruling His good, eternal desires in responding to self-centred desires. This attitude, unfortunately, manifests when we pray. Thus, in correcting this idea, William Barclay reminded us three things when we pray and to remember:
· The love of God that wants the best for us.
· The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
· The power of God that can accomplish it.
In His teaching from the mountain, Jesus provided how we must approach God and the right attitude when we pray:
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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12 NKJ
Three important keywords to consider in this bible text, namely, ask, seek, and knock. Each of them represents an impact as far as God’s answers are concerned. Lawrence O. Richards, a theologian, shared this wonderful insight, “Jesus describes prayer as asking, seeking, and knocking. “Ask” is the act of prayer in its simplest form. “Seek” conveys intensity, and “earnest sincerity.” And “knock” pictures persistence. We knock on the door of heaven and keep on knocking!”Knowing these three components give us the necessary edge when we pray, including assurance of God’s response according to His sovereignty.
What was Jesus talking about when He taught this prayer concept? When people pray, God is at work. Understanding God’s character and sovereignty are crucial to the prayer equation. What then is needed? Jim Cymbala shared, “Persistent calling upon the name of the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God.” Therefore, giving up is never an option. Praying with knowledge about who God becomes advantageous to us because God intends for everyone who prays accordingly, receives a definite and timely answer.
When we pray, we seek God Himself! The Psalmists encouraged, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4). Contrary to what many think, God is not hiding from anyone. He is longing for a persistent prayer anchored in faith in His power.
Samson, blinded by his enemies, prayed because he realized God is the only source of His strength: Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judges 16:28). God answered Samson’s prayer and gave him strength for the last time and died with his enemies.
There were situations that God declined a prayer. When this happens, God is exercising His prerogative according to His sovereignty. After receiving judgement from God, David prayed for his firstborn son’s healing and God said no:
David, therefore, begged God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house arose beside him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, and he didn’t eat bread with them. On the seventh day, the child died (2 Samuel 12:16-18).
However, David didn’t receive a favourable reply and lost his child:
And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:22-23).
David understood and accepted God’s judgment on his situation.
Is prayer a one-way monologue or a dialogue with God? These two examples showed the dynamics that occur when we pray. No matter what we receive from our prayers, positive or negative replies, let’s trust God at all times. He knows best!
Let’s talk again!