By David Faust
Through prayer God involves us in his work. Imagine a dad who asks his 10-year-old son to help with a household project. The father doesn’t need the boy’s assistance; in fact, the task will be simpler if he does it alone. But the father’s goal isn’t just to get a job done. He wants to build a relationship. By rubbing shoulders and working together with his dad, the son learns new skills and gets to know his father’s heart.
God doesn’t need our help, but he invites our participation. According to Pascal, prayer is God’s way of allowing his creatures “the dignity of causality.” God doesn’t owe us anything, but he gives us many things. He understands what we need, helps us sort through what we desire, and frequently blesses us beyond what we deserve. Though we may not understand God’s ways, he never mocks us or takes our concerns lightly.
Perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, Jesus described an interesting scenario around the family dinner table. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7:9, 10). It’s hard to imagine a child who requests a dinner roll finding a rock in the bread basket or a boy asking for a fish-stick and in response his dad throws a rattlesnake across the table! Even a bad dad usually does better than that. Jesus continued, “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 good gifts to those who ask him!” (v. 11).
Notice how the Lord instructs us to pray: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
God gives “to those who ask him.” We shouldn’t demand things from God, but neither should we be too shy to approach him. Like the prodigal son, we run into his open arms and humbly say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:21). Then we find to our surprise that he’s prepared a banquet for us to enjoy.
God rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). He blesses those who put his kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). Prayer is the ultimate search engine. It requires a curious mind to ask, “Lord, what is your will?” and a surrendered heart to say, “Your will be done.”
Like knocking on a door, prayer requires action and anticipates a response. Prayer is more than talking; it leads to doing. After encouraging his disciples to pray, Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). We receive good gifts from God so that we can pass them along to others.
There’s a lot I don’t understand about prayer. But with all its mystery, conversing with God is simple enough that it can be summed up in a short acrostic: Ask. Seek. Knock.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|April 18||M.||Matthew 7:7-12||The Father’s Gift|
|April 19||T.||2 Timothy 1:3-10||Called into Family|
|April 20||W.||2 Corinthians 9:6-11||The Generosity of God|
|April 21||T.||Romans 5:12-21||Eternal Family|
|April 22||F.||Luke 15:1-10||The Lost Brought Home|
|April 23||S.||Luke 15:25-32||The One Who Was Dead Is Alive|
|April 24||S.||Luke 15:11-24||A Family Reunion|