Someone once said that prayer is as powerful as God, since prayer invites the power of God into our lives and situations. The tremendous benefit of prayer is certainly beyond our ability to describe, since the fullness of God’s nature is beyond our ability to think or imagine.
Though God has revealed that He is all powerful and everywhere present it seems He only lovingly enters into some situations where He is invited. Of course He may enter uninvited in to judgment in the sense of bringing a curse or discipline on those disobedient. But in the way of help and support to provide His goodness, it seems that often God must be invited, He must be petitioned.
While God has provided to us a means of communication with Him directly by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, our position is that of a serving son. It is not the place of a serving son to direct or correct the will or plan of his Father. We are not the one being served in prayer but rather the one serving. The nature of our prayers should reflect directly or indirectly our true nature of a servant son of the Most High God.
God, revealing the nature of His interaction with mankind, repeatedly instructs us to ask. He further implores us to seek and to knock. Jesus gives us this instruction recorded below in Matthew Chapter Seven.
Matthew 7:7-11 (AMP)
7 Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent?
11 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!
The Amplified Bible translates the word for ask as keep on asking reflecting the present imperative tense of the verb for ask. This clearly implies that we are to continue in our action of asking for those things that we believe are good. But how do we know what is good?
James gives us some insight into this matter ….. in James 4:2b - 4
You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. 4 You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.
We learn from James that if our prayers are to be answered we must pray from a heart attitude of giving not taking. We also learn from Jesus that we should have more than a casual interest in the matter for which we are praying. Our interest ought to be prevailing to the point that we are persistent to ask.
While these ideas can seem a little complex prayer is so simple that is can be practiced by a small child and in fact may be best entered into with the sincere and simple heart of a child.
Jesus tells us only God is good and He gives to us good things. It is impossible for us to imagine how good God is. If we were to take every person who ever seemed good and everything that ever existed that seemed good and put them all together, the sum would not approach the goodness of God. God’s goodness is beyond our ability to describe.
For you and for me God has a good plan carved out of the bounty and abundance of His indescribable goodness. But God, for reasons we little understand, seems to require us to ask and sometimes to continue to ask in order to receive some portions of His goodness, the very goodness that He intensely desires to provide His deeply loved children.
Could it be from God’s perspective the reason we must ask is associated with God’s self constraint of always providing us with free choice? Could it be that to provide our desires, while known to God, without our specifically asking would be in effect a violation of His self imposed constraint to without exception give us free choice?
Whatever the heavenly perspective, we are strongly encouraged to ask. But even more we are encouraged to seek, particularly to seek God Himself. While God strongly desires to give us good gifts, His stronger desire is to develop with us a deep abiding relationship. God holds a higher place in His heart for relationships than for gifts, even His good gifts. God paid His most precious price in order that He might provide a way for a personal relationship to be established with you and me. Notice in the passage above; the good gifts are given in the context of the relationship of the son with his Father.
Keeping our perspective in concert with His directs us to first seek God’s face before we seek His hand. Seeking His face first, being the proper perspective of a servant son, colors every aspect of our asking when we ask from a place of deep intimate relationship with our loving heavenly Father. In this place we can pray without ceasing as naturally as we would regularly inhale and exhale the misty air on the upper deck of a mountain chateau. This is a place of rarefied air where our asking and seeking and knocking become a natural consequence of our submission and seeking to serve our Father and our King.
Jesus’ words concerning His Father’s ability and desire to give us good gifts has a slightly different twist in the gospel of Luke:
Luke 11:9-13 (AMP)
9 So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!
In this passage the good thing promised is the best thing! The Holy Spirit! While we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation there can be little doubt that we need the active power, guidance and fruit of the Holy Spirit dynamic in our lives every minute of every day. Paul speaks of this need to those in the area of Ephesus:
Ephesians 5:18 (AMP)
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. (emphasis added)
God desires to give the very things that He has in His storehouse waiting for us if we will simply ask. Of all the things we can ask for the highest good is to ask for the Holy Spirit to ever fill and control, to stimulate us minute by minute. The next best thing is perhaps to ask the Spirit to give us strength in our inner beings to be able to resist the temptations from the world the flesh and the devil that will interrupt the power and the wisdom and the direction of the Holy Spirit desires to provide for our lives.
Sin kills. Sin separates. Satan knows that his power is no match for the Holy Spirit, therefore his strategy is to cause us to sin and be therefore separated from the active power of the Spirit working in and through our lives. But we can ask. We can ask for the filling of the Spirit and we can ask for the Spirit to control our eyes and our minds and our hands and our hearts.
Victory and provision are ours for the asking when we ask as a serving son determined to bring glory to our Father and our King. Father, teach us to ask that we might receive every good and perfect gift from above that You might receive through our lives the great glory only YOU deserve.