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BIG IDEA:

THE PROMISE OF ANSWERED PRAYER FROM OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER MOTIVATES US TO KEEP PERSISTENT IN OUR PETITIONS AND INITIATE LOVE TOWARDS OTHERS

INTRODUCTION:

Why is our generation so weak in the area of prayer? This seems to be especially true among Christian men. Where are the prayer warriors of past ages? We must have an inflated opinion of what we can accomplish and a diminished expectation of how our heavenly Father longs to work and provide in response to our petitions. How could we invest our time more productively than in the area of prayer? This passage is a tremendous encouragement to keep persistent in our petitions.

CONTEXT:

Promise of Jesus in the context of the Sermon on the Mount:

Hungering and thirsting for the type of righteousness that only Christ can provide;

Don’t give in to temptation to give up; seek God for godliness and Christian

Character; We are being called to do the impossible; to strive for perfection

Don’t be anxious (about material provisions) – trust in the provision of your Master

(your heavenly Father); frees us up to show love to others; so we can ask our

Father with confidence to meet all of our basic material needs

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Have your priorities straight

and God will provide for whatever we need

Do not judge – take the log out of your own eye – Be brutally honest about your own

sin; God will be merciful to the merciful;

But be discerning about those whose motive is to mock the truth

Aspect of Prayer that is in view in this section is that of Petition to have needs met.

Love is about generously and sacrificially meeting the needs of others.

I. (:7-8) THE GOLDEN HARVEST LAW OF PRAYER – THE PROMISE THAT INTENSIFIED PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER WILL PREVAIL

A. The Unlimited Promise of the Harvest Law of Prayer – requires effort over time; requires faith: “as a man sows, so shall he also reap”

Acrostic: ASK

  • Ask – and it shall be given to you: A Gift from God’s grace. Involves confessing bankruptcy and inadequacy to achieve on your own

  • Seek – and you shall find: A Treasure of priceless worth (cf. the commercials). Involves right priorities and diligently searching for it; mining it

  • Knock – and it shall be opened to you:

An Open Door to God’s blessings. Involves taking initiative in step of faith to proceed through open door

B. The Universal Scope of the Harvest Law of Prayer — No Exceptions. Don’t doubt this – works every time

  • For everyone who asks receives

  • And he who seeks finds

  • And to him who knocks it shall be opened

II. (:9-11) THE GOLDEN PRINCIPLE OF FATHERHOOD – THE ARGUMENT FROM THE LESSER TO THE GREATER — THAT ANY FATHER LOVES TO BE RESPONSIVE AND PROVIDE GOOD GIFTS WHEN HIS CHILDREN ASK TO HAVE THEIR NEEDS MET

A. 2 Examples of the Responsiveness of Any Earthly Father:

(despite being essentially evil with only limited resources)

  • Loaf vs. Stone: “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?”

  • Fish vs. Snake: “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?”

(cf. how Christ demonstrated in His miracles His ability to multiply the loaves and fishes and supply any need imaginable)

Fathers love to respond to the requests of their children and perform the function of Provider.

B. Making the Argument: Greater Responsiveness and Generosity of Heavenly Father (supremely Good with unlimited resources)

  • From the Lesser: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children”

  • To the Greater: “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?”

III. (:12) THE GOLDEN RULE OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS — THE COMMAND TO INITIATE LOVE TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER AND SACRIFICIALLY GIVE TO MEET THEIR NEEDS

A. Connection to the Context: “Therefore”

Not just a string of isolated teachings

B. Standard for Conduct: “however you want people to treat you”

We all know how we would like to be treated: “by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2)

C. Initiative of the Command “so treat them”

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

Not just about how we feel towards them… but primarily how we act towards them. This requires an investment of our resources in the lives of others.

D. Essence of the Catechism: “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

This is what it is all about – what Christ has been trying to sum up in the Sermon on the Mount as He gives the divine interpretation of the OT law.

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5)

DEVOTIONAL QUESTIONS:

1) Is this repeated promise of Christ limited to only requests for spiritual fruit of the Spirit? (Look at the context of chapter 6.)

2) NWhat are the main obstacles for me in persisting in prayer?

3) How generous was my earthly father? Does that have any impact on how easily I see my heavenly Father as generous and responsive?

4) What is the connection, if any, between verse 12 and the preceding verses?

QUOTES FOR REFLECTION:

Hendriksen:

Is there a connection between these verses and verses 1-6? There are those who see no connection at all. This, however, would be strange. In the entire sermon up to this point we have witnessed a very logical development of ideas, an easy thought transition from one paragraph to the next. . . After a detailed examination of the entire preceding paragraph (verses 1-6) the question cannot be suppressed, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (II Cor. 2:16 A.V.). This question Jesus answers by urging the necessity of persevering prayer accompanied by earnest effort.. . it refers to asking for the fulfilment of every need, particularly ever spiritual need. . . .

As a very appropriate conclusion not only of 7:1-11 but of the entire large division beginning at 5;17 (and see also 5:5, 7, 9, 13-16) Jesus now presents his own version of The Golden Rule. . .

“How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him. Therefore – that is, out of gratitude for the Father’s continuing gifts – you should love your neighbors even as you desire that they love you, in order that the stream of love toward the undeserving may flow on and on, not only to your hearts, but also through and from your hearts until it reaches even the most unworthy. Thus, indeed, you will be sons of your Father who is in heaven, who causes his sun to rise on evil (people) and good, and sends rain on righteous and unrighteous” (5:45). This, indeed, and this alone, is The Golden Rule.

Kapteyn:

Jesus makes a simple, clear promise. (Matt 7:1-8) To ask, seek, and knock are all repetitions of the same thing not different ways of asking. When a promise is repeated in Scripture it carries more weight. (ie. Truly, truly I say to you..). Jesus in these two verses repeats his promise SIX times

In Luke’s parallel, Jesus says that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. It is only through the Holy Spirit that our hearts are changed. The fruit of the Spirit is Christian character or righteousness. This affirms the “what” that we are to ask for. his does not exclude asking for our daily bread, for the physical needs in our lives and other request we may have. However, God will only give what we ask if it is to our spiritual good.

Hoke:

When Jesus calls us to love our neighbor and to live by the golden rule, He is calling us to be people who care. The Sermon on the Mount is all about caring. You cannot live by the Sermon on the Mount and refuse to care about others. . .

But if we are seeking Him and His Kingdom first, then our desires will be controlled by His life in us. We will find ourselves desiring and asking for the things that are in concert with His will. And we read in 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” God hears and answers the prayers of those who ask for what He wants to give us. This is His promise. . .

We must not only see that the promises of God are ours, we must also see that they are ours because God loves us so. . .

And Jesus has given us the motivation to care by revealing to us the Father’s heart and the Father’s provision. We are freed to care for others because God has revealed His care for us. Knowing that our needs will be meet as we ask, seek, and knock frees us to reach out to help meet the needs of others. Being recipients of the father’s love frees us to love.

Lenski:

Among the good gifts for which the Father’s children pray daily is the power to overcome the promptings of their flesh so that by grace for Christ’s sake they may love their neighbor with a truly spiritual love and thus heap upon him all the kindness they themselves would like to receive. Christ’s Golden Rule has appealed to many, yet only true believers have understood it and have found the power to translate it into life in an ever-increasing degree.