Friday, July 16, 2021

The Vision (7.16.21): Discernment in Petitionary Prayer


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 7:7-11.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7).

Christ here teaches that his disciples should pray with boldness and confidence. He starts with three consecutive imperatives or commands, each followed by a promise.

Petitionary prayer is like asking. It is like seeking. It is like knocking.

And each of these things also perhaps suggests different aspects of petitionary prayer.

Asking is perhaps the most common way of speaking about petitionary prayer in the NT. It implies a defined request. You know what you want, and you make a specific request for it.

Think of your birthday. Your family says, “What do you want for your birthday?” And maybe there is something specific you really want. You ask for it. You make a specific desire known. This is what I want.

Seeking has a different connotation. It implies that one has a need, but perhaps he does not know how to find it or even how to articulate it. He needs something, but he is not quite sure what that thing might be. So, he goes out looking or seeking for it.

Knocking has yet another connotation. It implies a closed door. There is a way through which one wants to enter, but the pathway is blocked. The door is closed. And one knocks in hopes that it might be opened.

So, we might say there are asking prayers, seeking prayers, and knocking prayers.

Some might take this teaching out of context and use it to promote what is called a “name it and claim it” theology of prayer.

All I have to do is ask, and God is obligated to give what I ask.

All I have to do is seek, and God is obligated to let me find.

All I have to do is knock, and God is obligated to open the door.

But this where we must apply the Reformation principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture, or what Paul called “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Christ made it clear that he promised to grant the petitions of those who prayed “in my name” and who were abiding in him, and his word in them (cf. John 14:13-14; 15:7; 16:23-24).

Prayer is not “name it and claim it.” It is not like rubbing a lamp to find a genie in a bottle who is compelled to grant you three wishes. It is not about making God do our bidding, but about our being so conformed to Christ and his will that we want what he wants.

Let us then pray with boldness and confidence, asking, seeking, and knocking.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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