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.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Variety in Prayer (Matt. 7:7-11)
In these verses, Jesus teaches that there is more than one way to pray. One type of prayer is illustrated by asking, a second type is illustrated by searching, and a third type is illustrated by knocking. The first type describes simple, straightforward interaction between the child of God and the heavenly Father; the second type describes the child of God actively looking for blessings that God has hidden somewhere in order for his child to find; the third type describes the child of God patiently wanting access to what is on the other side of a closed door.
It is important to note that each of the three illustrations points to persistent praying. Each of the verbs are present imperatives, which means that we are to engage in these aspects of prayer continually. Jesus is not indicating that we move from a period of asking to a period of seeking in our prayer lives. Rather, each of them – asking, seeking and knocking – can exist simultaneously. Further, in verse 11, Jesus reminds his disciples that all answered prayer comes from the Father. ‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’ In other words, whatever is received through asking, seeking and knocking is a family blessing. They describe features connected to the status of adoption. These features are summarised in the Shorter Catechism answer 34: ‘Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.’ Jesus makes it clear that each type of prayer can know success. We may not be surprised that prayer can receive straightforward answers. At the beginning of our Christian life, we may wonder that the holy God should listen to a sinner. Yet we soon discover that each of his children is welcome to come to him and ask for basic blessings. So while we will remain amazed that God answers those prayers, we are not surprised. But should we be surprised at answers to the other two forms of prayer? We will think about them tomorrow.