Yesterday was a great Lord’s Day at Calvary. After our regular morning schedule of services and classes, we met at 1:30 in groups to pray for our church. I really enjoyed the fellowship I had with other men as we prayed together for our men’s ministry. There is something very unifying about praying together.
Last week I studied the next passage in my series from 2 Corinthians, but because of sickness was not able to be fully prepared to preach from it on Sunday. I prayed for direction, and the Lord put a message on my mind that I have preached other places, but not at Calvary. It is on the subject of prayer, so I thought it would fit well with our afternoon activity.
Here are raw, unedited sermon notes and some quotes. Listen to the entire sermon here.
Ask God Matthew 7:7-11
“If you need anything, just ask.”
That is what your great, wonderful, kind. loving, powerful Heavenly Father says to you.
- not a salesperson saying it, not a customer service representative, not a waiter, not technical support. These all have their limits. Your question or your need might exceed their knowledge or ability. God said it.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) defined and described kingdom living. He told us how to think and act. He knew you would need help. So He said, If you need help while you are living and serving as members of the Kingdom of God, ask your heavenly Father. Ask God.
- I feel bad asking God for things; wonder if I have praised, repented, yielded enough to qualify for asking for anything, (PRAY), or if I have adored, confessed, and thanked enough before I supplicate (ACTS). [acrostics that help us pray]
- Or I think I should only ask for spiritual blessings, that it is unspiritual or covetous to ask for material blessings.
- Some people don’t want to trouble God.
God invites you to ask for what you need. God wants you to pray, waits for you to express your needs to Him and delights in giving good things to His children. God wants to be troubled!
Not talking about “name it and claim it,” or that God wants you to be rich, or that you can order God around.
But there is a wonderful assurance from God that He will give you what you need.
You can summarize this passage in two words – ask God.
1. Ask according to God’s instructions. (7)
A. God instructs you to ask specifically.
– “ask” – express your need; vv. 9-10 – “bread” “fish” Lk. 11:12 “egg”
– the basic food they ate
For what can/should you ask God?daily material needs
cf 6:11 – “Give us this day our daily bread”
1Tim 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
– raiment – covering – protection from the elements, including clothing and shelter
– God promises to provide these, but He wants you to ask
We are dependent on Him to meet our daily material needs. We express our dependence by asking.
What can you ask God for? Groceries, medicine, finances, work, more work, coat, pair of shoes
If He willingly gives you what you need materially, He will certainly give you what you need spiritually.
– Forgiveness – asking is the only way to get it
– Strength in trials and temptations
– Mercy and grace to help in time of need
– Show you the way of escape in temptation
– Wisdom James 1:5-6 “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God”
– Someone to be saved
B. God instructs you to ask intensively.
– “seek” – v. 7 look for something that is hidden or lost; the object is something of value because it is worth money or it is precious to the person looking for it; look for it until you find it
Re: prayer – “seek” = pray with intensity; not just a whim, or a passing fancy; what you are asking for has real value, so much so that you pray with the goal in mind of getting what you are asking for
Jesus is talking about determined praying, intense praying, sincere praying, praying that it genuinely interested in an answer.
Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks – “God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are.”
James 5:16 The effectual fervent [energetic] prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
– casual praying vs. concentrated, fervent praying
– when you pray – as you go vs. set time in your schedule
– last thing vs. first thing
– how you pray – posture – worship, plead
– passion – allow your mind to wander; concentrate
C. God instructs you to ask persistently.
– “knock” – You knock at a door when you want to go in.
If no one comes to the door, you knock again, and again.
Each of these words, ask, seek, and knock, is a present tense verb, meaning “keep on,” “continually”.
Don’t just ask once; if you ask and don’t get an answer, ask again, and again, and again, and don’t stop asking until you get a response!
Jesus says, ask God, and when you do, keep asking.
Blind Bartamaeus was glad he didn’t stop asking when the people told him to. “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me.” “Shut up,” they said.
“Jesus Son of David have mercy on me.” over and over
Do you think Jesus heard him the first time? Probably. But Jesus let the man cry out repeatedly before He did anything.
What did Jesus call it when Bartamaeus kept yelling at Him?
“Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”
Called it faith.
When someone won’t leave you alone, persists in asking you for something, we call it an irritation; God likes it, calls it faith!
– George Mueller ran an orphanage in England; every day he woke up and prayed before leaving his bedroom; many days his requests were answered before he left his room, while others were answered throughout the day; said he received over 30,000 specific answers to prayer on the same day he asked for them during his lifetime; but did not always get the answer right away; in November of 1844, he began praying for five people to be saved; prayed every single day, never missed once; a year and a half later, one was saved; five more years of praying, and the second was saved; six more y ears of praying every day and the third was saved; the fourth was saved later in Mueller’s life; what about the fifth? Mueller prayed every day for that one for 54 years, but didn’t live to see the answer to his prayers. After he died, the fifth one came to Christ.
Make up your mind that when you start asking God for anything, you won’t stop asking until He gives you an answer.
2. Ask according to God’s promises. (7-8)
– Promises repeated; v. 7, v. 8
Couple of insights about God’s promises:
A. God’s promises are for you.
– “every one”; “he that”; “to him”
Whose prayers does God promise to answer?
“Every one” who graduated from a Christian school; has a good family background; has the latest technological gadgets; sings in the choir, is a deacon, a teacher, is a “great man or woman of God”; can pray really neat-sounding prayers?
“everyone that asketh”
Do you believe God answers prayer? Do you believe God will answer your prayers?
B. God’s promises are for real.
EXPL – “shall be given” – something is going to happen!
Charles Spurgeon once said:
“There is no need for us to go beating about the bush, and not telling the Lord distinctly what it is that we crave at His hands. Nor will it be seemly for us to make any attempt to use fine language; but let us ask God in the simplest and most direct manner for just the things we want…I believe in business prayers. I mean prayers in which you take to God one of the many promises which He has given us in His Work, and expect it to be fulfilled as certainly as we look for the money to be given us when we go to the bank to cash a check. We should not think of going there, lolling over the counter chattering with the clerks on every conceivable subject except the one thing for which we had gone to the bank, and then coming away without the coin we needed; but we should lay before the clerk the promise to pay the bearer a certain sum, tell him in what form we wish to take the amount, count the cash after him, and then go on our way to attend to other business. That is just an illustration of the method in which we should draw supplies from the Bank of Heaven. “
Bold? “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace”
Let me hand you your checkbook:
Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
John 14:13-14 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Do you believe God?
Is God tricking you? Is He a liar?
“Prayer is the hand that takes to ourselves the blessings that God has already provided in His Son.” – R. A. Torrey
“Prayer goes by faith into the great orchard of God’s exceeding great and precious promises, and with hand and heart picks the ripest and richest fruit.” – E. M. Bounds
“The power of prayer has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, ‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'” (Jer. 33:3)
“The Puritans had a term for this. They called it ‘suing for grace.’ They almost demanded, required God to give them the blessings He owed them in Christ!” – J. Hudson Taylor
You can go into your place of private prayer, or sit down with your friends, or family, and present one of God’s promises to Him and expect Him to keep it!
3. Ask according to God’s character. (9-11)
“What would you like for your birthday dinner?” Bread, fish, eggs; Give bowl of rocks, plate of snakes, covered serving dish of scorpions
(Luke 11:12 – egg, scorpion)
Repulsive, cruel, harmful
Say you ask for bread, fish, eggs; mom bakes yeast rolls dripping with butter, all the grilled, succulent, glazed salmon you can eat, and cherry pie, warm with vanilla ice cream melting and mixing with the filling
– She gave you above and beyond what you asked – “She’s the greatest!”
What is God like? What is His character? V. 11 – “your Father” who “gives good things.” If you ask for bread He will not give you a stone; He will at least give you bread; He might surprise you and give you more than what you need! And there will be times when He will exceed your wildest dreams!
Ephesians 3:20 – Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think
Your Heavenly Father gives good things. “He’s the greatest!”
– if you ask Him for something and He doesn’t give it to you, then it is not a good thing.
– Sometimes you ask God for rocks – worthless things
serpents – harmful things
scorpions – deadly things
– Paul asked God three times to remove his thorn in the flesh. God gave Him something better. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” God knows what is good for you.
Thank God His answers are wiser than our prayers!
During Hitler’s awful reign of terror in Germany, many people fled the country. One of those was a mathematical genius who came to the United States of America. He purchased an old two-story house with green shutters on a tree-lined street within walking distance of Princeton University. In his little house, this man entertained some of the most distinguished scientific and political personalities of the age. They discussed complex issues and great ideas which have shaped our modern world.
He had another frequent visitor in his home. She was not a physicist or a world leader. Ten year old Emmy had some difficulty with fifth grade math, and she heard that a very kind man who knew a lot about mathematics had moved into her neighborhood. She decided to visit the man down the block and see if he would help her. The man was very willing, explained everything to her so that she could easily understand it, and told her she was welcome to come and ask for help anytime
A few weeks later, Emmy’s mother learned from a neighbor that Emmy was often seen entering the man’s house. She asked Emmy about it, and the girl admitted it was so. Her mother scolded her: “The professor is a very important man! His time is very valuable! He can’t be bothered with the problems of a little schoolgirl.”
Then Emmy’s mother rushed over to the professor’s house and knocked on the door. When he answered the door, she was so flustered at the sight of this famous man’s lined face, the kindly eyes, and the mane of unruly white hair poking every direction, that she could only stammer incoherently.
I suppose I might be at a loss for words standing at the front door of – Albert Einstein.
After a few awkward moments the genius spoke: “Ah! I think I understand. You’re Emmy’s mother, aren’t you?”
“Yes and I’m so sorry she’s been coming over here and bothering you.”
“Bothering me! Ach, no! Why, when a child finds such joy in learning, then it is my joy to help her learn! Please don’t stop Emmy from coming to me with her school problems. She is welcome in this house anytime.”
If Albert Einstein was more than happy to help Emmy with 5th grade math, “how much more” do you think your heavenly Father – your heavenly Father – wants – is not just willing, but wants, and waits, and will hear and answer your prayers?
Key – end of v. 11 – “to them that ask Him” So what do you need to do?
Are you in trouble? Ask God for help.
Are you confused? Ask God for direction. Are you guilty? Ask God for forgiveness.
Are you hungry? Ask God to feed you. Are you grieving? Ask God for comfort.
He is ready to give you the answers to life’s hardest questions, provide for your daily needs, give you strength for your trials, wisdom for your decisions, equip and lead you to live and serve in His kingdom.
All you need to do is – ASK GOD!