“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. Matthew 7:7,8
The divinely targeted life seeks the way of the Lord revealed by the Spirit in prayer and obeys the will of the Lord as revealed in His Word. Jack Hayford.
Prayer is a life-style.
If you have it, you have everything else. I you don’t have it; it doesn’t much matter what else you have.
Andrew Murray writes this:
It is fellowship with the Unseen most holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed at its [prayer’s] disposal. It is:
the very essence of true religion,
the channel of all blessings,
the secret of power and life.
Not only for us, but also for others, for the church, for the world, it is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength.
Ask, Seek, Knock – three words from Jesus himself. He is teaching the people of the old Israel in the traditional mode of instruction. The principle is stated and then repeated. The people there did not sit with notebooks. In fact they had very little or in most cases, no access to Scripture. The scrolls were carefully preserved and maintained by the Scribes and the Pharisees within the confines of the synagogue. They were the leaders, powerful and prescriptive. Ordinary men had no source of the Word of God available to them. They fully relied on their leadership to prescribe a godly life – and the leadership did not disappoint – they prescribed!
Jesus came from a nation that loved prayer. No nation ever had a higher ambition of prayer than the people of Judea. They ranked prayer as the highest priority in their religious duties.
But certain faults had crept into the Jewish habits of prayer. They are not the faults of neglect; they are the faults of misguided devotion. Prayer tended to become formalized.
There were many who loved the formal prayers and who repeated it with reverence and adoration and love. Inevitably there were also those who rambled through it, to hasten on to more pressing matters.
We Christians cannot really criticize. For everything that has been said about formally gabbling through any of the prescribed prayers of Judea, can be said about grace before a meal at the family table.
Repetition of the formal prayers can become something like a superstitious incantation of a spell.
Further, the Jewish liturgy supplied stated prayers for all occasions. There was hardly an event, which had not a formal prayer. There was prayer before and after each meal; there were prayers regarding the light, the fire, the lightning, seeing the new moon, rain, storms, when one sees the sea, lakes, rivers, on receiving good news, on using new furniture, on entering or leaving a city. Everything had its prayer.
It really was something very dear and beautiful. Every happening in life was brought into the presence of God. But just because the prayers were so meticulously prescribed and stated, the whole system lent itself to formalism. They focused on the right prayer for the right time.
The pious Jew had set times for prayer. The hours were the third, the sixth and the ninth hours, that is, 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm; wherever a man found himself he was compelled to pray. He might be genuinely praying to God, or he might be carrying out a formality. The Jews prayed standing, with hands stretched out, palms upwards, and head bowed in plain view of every passerby.
To these people Jesus teaches on prayer in the chapters of Matthew 6 and 7.
We live in the dispensation after the cross of Jesus and know that satan was defeated by the resurrection of Christ. Jesus taught His disciples a ground-breaking, theology-shattering prayer – to call God Father. For the Jews at the time, God was a distant, untouchable, holy and strict God-figure. They could hardly call Him by name. They prayed their daily prayers fulfilling the requirements, mostly in public. His name was written with consonants only. The vowels were left out in reverence.
They never dreamed of calling God the Father DAD. Jesus said that whoever have seen Him, have seen the Father, Creator-God, the high and holy One, living and breathing amongst us. John 14:7:
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Jesus WAS God the Father. The Trinity is integrated, not so detached as we might have come to think. It is as if God tore His own heart out and put it in the human body of Jesus and said – I’ll show mankind my heart.
He taught them to pray the iconic prayer in Matthew 6. It is a wonderful discovery to study the “Our Father” in detail and learn to pray from Jesus Himself. It is a powerful and most well known prayer, prayed in the most difficult and darkest circumstances over many centuries. It has been used and abused and has not lost anything in the process. Our Creator, our Maker is our dad, papa, pappa – the warmest closest words you can find for the man who is your father.
He is infinitely more than the best you can imagine.
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” (Matthew 19:17, The Message)
Next time: Prayer in secret.