Certainty of answers (Matthew 7:6-12)


Concerning each of the methods of prayer in these verses, Jesus says that it will be successful. Here he teaches with emphasis that prayer is answered. This means that we can say that prayer proves the faithfulness of God to his promises, the wisdom of God regarding how he produces the answers, and the love and joy that he shows when doing so. Maybe it will be the case that when we get to the judgement seat we will discover how much we could have received if we had prayed oftener.

What reasons can be given for this failure? I will mention three. One of them is spiritual lethargy. We could say that since God knows what we need, he will give without us praying. But he has told us to pray for our needs. Or we could say that since God has planned everything, we don’t need to pray because our prayers will make no difference. That suggestion is evidence of spiritual laziness.

A second reason is our attitude towards God. Jesus mentions that here when he talks about a person not giving a stone instead of bread or a serpent instead of a fish. The one we pray to is the heavenly Father who delights to give good things to his children. I suspect that we have no idea how much the Father delights in the prayers of his people and in answering them.

A third reason is a failure to persevere, and we can see that perseverance is part of the description of prayer given here by Jesus. Why should we persevere? In addition to the fact that prayer is obedience to a divine command, persisting in prayer brings us repeatedly to God. It is inevitable, then, persistent prayer will change us and that is a blessing. And it may be the case that God delays the answer because we value it more than we value him.

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