#377 - WHAT DO YOU WANT? (22/6/21)
When I was a child and I heard the ‘music’ of the ice cream van, I know what I wanted and I knew how to get it! I ran indoors like lighting and began my persistent ‘prayers’.
In this week’s section of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:7-12), Jesus is teaching us the importance of knowing what we want and then persisting in prayer. The problem with many of us is that we don’t really want anything! Jesus taught,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
Knowing what’s important and giving sufficient focus to those things is what any parent would want their child - it’s a key life skill. Giving up because things are difficult is not good. Doing things that are not important at the expense of things that are is not good. Our Father is good and so He is endeavouring to teach you to want the right things and then the perseverance or self-control to persist in praying for them.
If we are to persist in praying for what’s important, firstly, we need to learn to give value to the correct things. We must learn to want the right things. Notice that in our passage, those who persist in prayer ‘Ask, seek and knock for things that they want; they want something ‘given’, they have something to ‘find’, they have a door to ‘open’. Those who persist in prayer really want something from God. They really want the right things from God. How can we know what we are to persist in praying for?
The bible shows us what to pray for
We know what to pray for, principally, through God’s word. As we read it, we are shown God’s will. We are shown a vision of life that we don’t currently have. Our hunger and thirst for righteousness grow as we read prayerfully. As we read it, the Holy Spirit inspires faith for prayer and the self-control to persevere.
For example, If one reads the life of Jesus in the gospels one cannot help but be moved to pray for more miracles.
Jesus tells us something very interesting when He says,
‘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)
Surely, praying what we read in the Bible back to God is a massive part of this.
Providence informs what to pray for
Secondly, we learn about what we want from God by what He’s doing in our lives. Specifically, trials create Godly desire in us. We must ‘listen’ to God about the circumstances we’re in and pray accordingly. What are your current trials teaching you about prayer?
If you haven’t done so, please ensure that you’ve looked at yesterday’s response about how to pray using The Lord’s Prayer.
Key skill - Writing a prayer-list
We will never be faithful and consistent in prayer if we just ‘go with the flow’. Using a tool like some kind of prayer list is very helpful in our endeavour to ‘pray and never give up’.
In the past I have used a notebook with different sections for different days and different topics. Over recent years, I’ve moved to using a computer-based list so that it can be easily updated and is more secure.
Decide on a set of topics around which you can organise your prayers and requests. Here are a few examples:
My church (it's leaders, growth etc.)
Others (those who have asked you to pray, those struggling)
My community (people whom you’d like to see become a Christian)
The nation and beyond (This and other nations; those whom you know serving God overseas. An app. like Operation World can also be helpful in this.)