Greeting: Call upon God in the day of trouble. He will deliver you and you will glorify Him.
Text: 9) So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. 10) For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 11) Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12) Of if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13) If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
Introduction: When a person asks the question: Why should I make prayers of request to God? Bible-knowing Christians are often ready to step in and offer several answers to that question. “Why should you make prayers of request to God? Well, first of all, God wants you to talk to Him in prayer. In fact, He commands us to pray to Him. He says we should call on Him. Secondly, we have needs that only He can help us with. We have problems, challenges, trials and troubles that only He has the solution and remedy for. And then there are the promises He makes. God promises that He will hear our prayers. He will listen to them. And not only that, God also promises that He will do something about our requests. He promises that he will help us in our need.” That is a fairly solid and complete answer to the question of Why pray.
Now, as we look at those reasons to pray, I would like to ask you: Which of those reasons would be the most persuasive in actually moving a person like you to bring your requests to God? The fact that God invites and commands us to pray is very powerful. After all, who are we to refuse to talk to our God? The fact that we have great needs is also a powerful incentive to pray. We are often in deeper waters than we can handle. But I would submit that the more powerful reasons for prayer are because of His promises to hear us and help us.
Let’s consider this from the perspective of dealing with a friend. The fact that a friend would enjoy talking with us in nice. The fact that we have someone to share our pressing problems with us is also nice. But what would be even nicer is if that friend would take a deep interest in our problems and then help us find the right solution to those problems. God is a Friend who does more than invite us to talk to Him and lets us get things out of our system. He is also a Friend who takes a deep interest in our difficulties and duties. And He is also a Friend who can and will do things to help us address them.
Today we use the words of our Savior in Luke 11 to consider God’s promises to answer our prayers. In His teaching, Jesus lets us know that our prayers will be heard as we call on God through faith in Him and that God will give us the good help that we need.
1.As You Call On Him Through Faith
Will God really hear our prayers? Jesus says: “I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10) For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The answer is: “Yes.” He says it here. He also says it in other places in His Word.
God says it in Zechariah 13:9: “They will call on My name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people” and they shall say: “The Lord is our God.” God says it in Isaiah 58:9: “Then you will call and the Lord will answer you; you will cry for help, and He will say: “Here am I.” God says it in Psalm 91:15: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”
God promises to hear the prayers of His believers, of those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior from their sin. Jesus says: “My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” Relying on Jesus as the One who removes and forgives our sins, we are pleasing to God. Approaching God through Jesus, our requests are pleasing and acceptable to Him. The writer of the Book of Hebrews assures us: “Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Just to be clear, God’s promise to hear prayers does not apply to people who are unrepentant for their sin and refusing of Jesus as their Savior. God warns: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.”
Listen to what Jesus promises those who trust Him. Ask and it will be given to you; everyone who asks receives. Seek and you will find; he who seeks finds. Knock and the door will be opened to you; to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Our requests will be fulfilled, our searching will be rewarded, our access to God will be granted and our appeals to Him will be accepted. God will take time for us and will give us His undivided attention. He will listen to our requests with interest and concern. He will take them to heart and consider them with love. God will not rest until He faithfully provides the answer we need.
If we think that God does not really hear our prayers, let us remember what God did for Moses when the people of Israel come to the Desert of Shur and the only water they found was the bitter, undrinkable water of Marah. “Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the wter, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:24-35) Let us remember what God for Hannah who was depressed and often crying because she was childless. She prayed: “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give me a son.” The Lord remembered Hannah. In the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” (1 Samuel 1:11,20) Let us remember what God did for King Jehoshaphat of Judah. In the midst of battle against the forces of the King of Aram, the enemy chariot commanders targeted him for death. “They turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out and the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him.” (2 Chronicles 18:31) God heard and answered their prayers. In the Scriptures we are also told that God answered the requests of other believers such as Gideon, Samuel, Solomon, Elijah, Hezekiah, Ezra and Zechariah.
God promises to hear the prayers of those who call on Him in faith. He does, in every case, without ever failing. Let us who believe in Jesus bring our requests to Him for whatever we need. He will not fail us. He has promised. He will keep His promise.
2.By Giving You Good Things
When God promises to answer our prayers, He not only tells us that He will hear us, He also promises that He will help us. God will not only listen to us with interest, He will also take action for our benefit. Jesus discusses the help and benefit that we can expect from God in verses 11-13 of Luke 11: 11) Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12) Of if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13) If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
Jesus uses the earthly example of a father’s concern for his son. A caring earthly father will refuse to give his son bad and harmful things. The father will not give the son a snake when he asked for a fish. He will not give him a scorpion when he asked for an egg. He will simply not give his hungry child something that would hurt or kill him. This is true even though the father is sinful and far from perfect. Jesus then moves on to God’s fatherly concern. He reasons from less important to more important matters to make his point. If an imperfect human father will not give his son something that would harm him, how much more should we expect and know that our heavenly Father will not give us anything that would be bad or harmful for us as His children. Our heavenly Father loves us even better and more truly that our earthly fathers can. He will surely answer our prayers by giving us only things that are good for us.
Now the problem with this promise of good things from God is that we might easily be mistaken about what those good things should be. We hear that God will only give us good things, and in our sinful short-sightedness, we may think that this means that God will give us exactly what we ask Him for. We think, “”Who knows better than me, what is good for me? I wouldn’t ask God for something if I didn’t think that it was good and what I needed.
Here is where we can get disappointed. For God, who is our good Father in heaven, may decide to answer our prayer differently than we anticipated. We asked Him to let the Powerball ticked we bought be the one that wins the $240,000,000 praise, and God let someone else become a multi-millionaire. We asked God to let us get over our nasty cold in 1 week and He lets is drag on 2 weeks. We get confused and discouraged by answers like that. After all, God has promised to give us good things and then, the good things we envisioned did not come our way. Our expectations in which we decide what the good things are that God is to give us in answer to our requests are where we may easily be wrong, even sinfully wrong.
Martin Luther explained the proper way for us to think about God’s promise to give us good things. He said: “God must often say to us: ‘If I gave you what you ask for, I would be a fool as you are.’ We often pray in a foolish manner because we are flesh and blood. We enjoy the benefit that our prayer is always heard, for if it is not heard according to our will, yet it is heard according to the will of God, which is better than our will. It is not necessary that God always answer me according to my will, for then God would be my prisoner. And why should God answers our prayers the way we want if He knows of something that is better for us?
The granting of our requests is to be so defined that God does not always do what we desire, but He always does what is beneficial for us. Because God is good, he can give nothing except what is good. However, we often ask things for our children, often for our friends, and especially for ourselves, not what is good, but only what seems to be good to us. In such cases God grants us answer to our prayers even when he does not do exactly what we ask of Him. That is why, in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for the hallowing of the name of the Lord, for the coming of God’s kingdom, and for the fulfilling of God’s will before we pray for our own concerns and the necessities of this life. We are asking that in such matters, our God may do, not what seems to be good to us, but actually what is good.
God will hear our prayer by giving us what is best for us. Many times that best is much different, more surprising, and much better then we could imagine or ask for ourselves. When it comes to the matter of prayer, we have plenty of reasons to come to our God. We have His gracious invitation and His sincere command. We have God’s previous answers to our prayers and His blessings to thank Him for. We have our needs that clearly require His assistance. But most of all, we have God’s promise that He will clearly and lovingly hear our prayers and that He will wisely and properly give us His help. May His promise draw us into His presence to pour out our hearts to Him more and more. May our Savior’s promise fill us with eager anticipation for the truly good things He will send us. Amen.