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Matthew 7:7-12 
 
 

"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. [8] "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. [9] "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? [10] "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? [11] "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! [12] "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 
 

If you ask the young children in our Sunday School, "How can I be a better Christian?" They are likely to respond, "Go to church, read your Bible and pray." Even the youngest among us know the value of doing these things, yet every week there are empty pews at the church, and dusty, unread Bibles in our homes. And most of us would admit we don't pray enough. How many of you are satisfied with your prayer lives? 

In this text, Jesus promises to respond to our prayers, if we will only pray them. So, my question is, WHY DON'T WE ASK?

Do we not ask because we don't trust God?

Fidel Castro, the notorious Cuban dictator, recently offered to send monitors to supervise a new presidential election if asked by the United States. As generous as his offer was, I doubt that he will be getting a phone call anytime soon. A communist dictator probably doesn't have any expertise that the US can use to help grease the wheels of democracy.

I can understand why the US government won't be asking Castro for help, but I don't understand why Christians are slow to ask God for help. I know we trust Him, so why do we suffer from an epidemic of prayerlessness?

(From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

Our text today clearly says He will respond if we ask. Look at Matthew 7:7 again, "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 

Do we not ask because things are going well? I know that I did not suffer from prayerlessness when I was struggling with cancer. Have you noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well?

This Thanksgiving, many of us took time to thank God for what we have. Some of us even concluded we have all we want. Contentment is a virtue, but not when we say we "have all we want" and the "all" does not include God. St. Augustine said, "God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full - there's nowhere for Him to put it." 

Do you think that we regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it? --C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pg 96

Do we not ask because we are too busy doing good? Billy Kim is the newly elected Baptist World Alliance President and the pastor of a 13,000 member church, the Suwon Church in South Korea. In his comments after his election, he said, "If I had to do it all over, I would do more praying and less preaching."

(From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

How could that be? Isn't preaching a high calling? Yes, but so is praying. When we preach, people listen, but when we pray, God listens. When we preach, people act, but when we pray, God acts.

Faith praying can change the world. The scripture says, " . . .if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20 NASB)

After the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl a few years ago, Gilbert Brown was a hot commodity. Jacksonville offered him an extra million dollars to put his 325 pound body into their uniform, but Brown decided to stay in Green Bay.

Why would he turn down a million dollars? A tearful little girl in an autograph signing session asked him to stay.(From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ASK?

When we ask, Revival Comes.

Jim Cymbala began at the Brooklyn Tabernacle as an ill-equipped, under-educated, time-strapped preacher who led a second congregation in New Jersey. The Brooklyn church had no money to pay him, a ramshackle building, and barely enough attendance to bother with weekly meetings.

Today, the Tabernacle hosts around 6,000 spirit-filled worshipers. The difference came when Jim, in a moment of desperation, set aside his planned message and called the church to pray. The weekly prayer meeting, not the Sunday worship, became the focal point of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. 

Jim's belief that "God can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him" (p. 19) guides his work. It is Prayer, not preaching that brings Revival. (From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

The scripture says, "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14 NASB) God doesn't say he might hear, forgive and heal-He says He "will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." So why don't we ask?

When we ask, souls are saved.

For sixty years the members of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Mount Carmel, TN prayed for Joe Arnott to come to Christ. Even though he wasn't a Christian, he was a religious man and attended Sunday School and Church for all those years, but never accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord.

Several church members witnessed to him, but his answer was always the same, "I'm not ready yet." No one gave up, they kept praying for him.

March 5, 2000 their prayers were answered. Arnott made a public profession of his faith. The congregation wept as they watched 60 years of prayers walk the aisle to give his life to Jesus. Seeing what was happening, the men in his Sunday School class followed Arnott down the aisle and stood with him as he made his decision.

His pastor, Benny Keck said, "I suppose fewer words will ever sound sweeter to my ears than hearing Joe say, 'I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'"

(From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

God doesn't always answer our prayers on our timetable, but He does answer us if we will pray. Wouldn't it be terrible to wake up in eternity to discover God intended to save a soul or bring a great revival, but was thwarted by our prayerlessness? In Matthew 13:58, we learn about the role of our faith in Jesus' miracles, it says, "And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief."

Our unbelief can block God's miracles. James 4:2 says ". . .yet ye have not, because ye ask not." Is it possible that God is waiting for us to pray before He acts? Could we be too late with our prayers?

In Canada, a diver drifted 10 kilometers with the tide as dozens of people desperately searched for him. He died, in part, because his friends delayed calling for help. His partners in the dive boat waited an hour and 45 minutes to call for help after he was swept away in a strong ebb tide.

"They tried to search for him themselves," said marine controller Marc Proulx. "Maybe they were embarrassed. I don't think they are his best buddies by now." 

The Canadian Coast Guard had some strong words of advice after. "Call us quickly -- the quicker it is the better," said Proulx.

Calling for help as soon as possible is always a good idea, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. Why is prayer usually our last resort instead of our first option? How far do we have to "drift" before we call on God to help us?

(From Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

"As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. [17] Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice." Psalm 55:16-17 

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