Saturday, November 12, 2011

A living, breathing prayer-life

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

In the first of five sermons preached by Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, we find the Lord unfolding for us the purpose and nature of the prayer-life.  In the same sermon (called by many "The Sermon on the Mount") Jesus mentions prayer in this chapter and in the previous.  What we find out about prayer is that there are three different levels of prayer:

Level One: Asking Prayer

This is where many Christians start their prayer-life - in the realm of asking.  When I am asking God for things in prayer, my circumstances shape much of how I pray.  Now in this type of praying, Jesus is not specifying "what we ask for" so much as He is emphasizing "how we ask".  Clearly in this type of praying, how I ask will determine the certainty of whether or not God will grant the request.  I must know His will, that is - His desire, wish or mind on the given matter.  How do I discover that?  His word - the scriptures. When I combine the scriptures with my prayer-life - I'll know exactly what to ask the Father for and how to pray more effectively. 

Level Two: Seeking Prayer

This level of prayer is a little more aggressive.  This is where we begin to cross the threshhold in our prayer life from seeking "things" from God to "seeking God".  As much as burdens still play a role in the shaping of our prayer life, the life of prayer, when seeking God, becomes more interested in meeting Him than in Him meeting the need.  Jesus says: "Seek and you will find".  Notice again, He is not defining what we are seeking, only that when we seek, we will find.  In the same sermon, in the previous chapter, Jesus tells us this in Matthew 6:33 - "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all of these things will be added unto you." So when I seek, I seek after God, and what He wants, and lo and behold whatever I'm praying for, God will show up. (please compare 1 John 5:14-15)

Level Three: Knocking Prayer

In this final level of prayer, we are focusing on a particular purpose with a resolve to hear and commune with God.  "Knocking prayer" is where we want Jesus to open the door.  How often do you hear people talk about "closed or open doors"?  Often they are speaking about opportunities that have come or gone.  But in Jesus' words we find that knocking prayer is where our prayer life has gone from duty to desperation.  Knocking prayer will stop at nothing until the soul has found its rest in the presence of the Lord. (please compare Psalm 73:25).  This is where we only want Him - since it is in God's showing up that our answer is obtained. 

I find Jesus' words here penetrating - since He reveals a living, breathing prayer-life. 

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