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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Knocking in prayer (Matt. 7:7-11)

The third type of prayer mentioned by Jesus is connected to approaching a door. Some writers argue that the door here is the door of providence, such as those described in the letter to the church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3), except that it is a door that is shut temporarily. This may be the case, but it seems to me that the illustration points to knocking at a door on which the Father is at the other side. I suspect that the illustration is pointing to the possibility of disciples obtaining access in a special way to the presence of God. The illustration pictures a believer coming to the door of a building and knocking persistently in order to obtain access.

Of course, God does not have a literal house to which we can go. He dwells in the heavens. Yet the imagery points to the prospect of a disciple enjoying with God the parallel experiences that can be known in a house. For example, in a house there is usually a place where people can eat together, or a place where they can rest, or a place where they can enjoy privacy. It is possible for a believer to find himself in the place described in Psalm 91:1: ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ Home is usually a secret place for those who live there; it is also usually the place where they feel very secure and where they are satisfied. In a far higher sense, it is possible to have a secret place to meet with God, where no enemy can intrude and where the soul is enraptured by the beauty of God. This should be the highest aim of our prayer lives.

Why does God deal with us in this way?

Several reasons can be given in answer to this question. One is that God tests our determination to aim for the best things even in the Christian life. Sometimes we can be satisfied with second best, even in spiritual things. It is sad, but true, that some believers do not make much advance in discovering the riches of God. What they have is wonderful, but they could have so much more.

A second reason is that God wants his people to be diligent in their use of prayer. If the best things came our way with ease, then we would not make much effort. Most things that are worthwhile require ongoing effort. It is the same with prayer. The more diligent we are in prayer, the more we will receive out of God’s storehouse. We need both determination and diligence – determination makes us choose the right path and diligence keeps us on the right path. We don’t want determination without diligence – that is only good resolutions without action.  We don’t want diligence without determination – that can mean being busy doing wrong things.

A third reason is that God wants to be the desire and delight of our hearts. He wants us to move on past the gifts to the Giver, to appreciate his beauty more than his bounty, to know his love as well as his blessings. Prayer should be progressive all through our Christian lives. We should enjoy God more today than we did yesterday, and determined, diligent prayer is essential for that experience.

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