Day Ten: Friday, June 19th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 7:1-29
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Our Father gives good gifts”
The 7th chapter in Matthew touches on many subjects, calling us to…
- Focus on the log in our own eye and not judge the speck in our neighbor’s.
- Enter by the narrow gate.
- Bear good fruit for the kingdom.
The chapter and sermon end with the sure and strong promise that those who hear the words of Jesus and put them into practice will be like those who build their house on a solid rock.
Tucked neatly into this chapter is an invitation to come before our Father in heaven with complete trust and confidence. Jesus tells us that God not only welcomes our prayers, our Heavenly Father indeed desires our prayers.
- Ask and it will be given to you.
- Seek and you will find.
- Knock and the door will be opened to you.
Years ago I came across a book I found very helpful, “The Training of the Twelve,” by A.B. Bruce. In a chapter devoted to prayer, Bruce writes, “Prayer is a necessity of spiritual life, and all who earnestly try to pray soon feel the need of teaching how to do it.” (P. 52) Concerning The Lord’s Prayer, Bruce encourages us to see that special prayer as a foundation for all of our prayers. He uses a wonderful analogy saying The Lord’s Prayer is like the alphabet and our use of words…once we learn how to pray that prayer, the door opens for us to grow in our prayer life and build a deep and meaningful relationship with our Lord.
The words of Jesus inviting us to ask, to seek, and to knock are words that encourage us to come to God on a regular basis and pour our hearts out to God. The example of God not giving us a stone when we ask for bread or a serpent when we ask for a fish serve to let us know our Father will certainly hear our prayers and give us good gifts.
But late in the chapter on prayer, just when we think we might have mastered prayer and become mature in our prayer life, Bruce explores something of great mystery. Not all of our prayers are answered. Indeed, there are times, difficult and challenging times that test our faith and cause us to struggle mightily, times when we ask for bread and it seems our Father in heaven instead gives us a stone. Deep disappointment follows. Where is the Father who promised to give good gifts?
“It is implied in the very fact that Christ puts such cases as a stone for bread and a serpent for fish that God seems at least sometimes so to treat his children. The time came when the twelve thought they had been so treated.” Bruce is making reference to the great shock and stunning reversal that came when these disciples, taught by Jesus to pray for God’s kingdom to come, witnessed their Lord as he was betrayed, arrested, condemned, and crucified. The twelve asked for bread and for all they could understand God gave them a stone. “But they lived to see that God was true and good, and that they had deceived themselves, and that all which Christ had told them had been fulfilled. And all who wait on God ultimately make a similar discovery, and unite in testifying that ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him.’” (67-68)
The Father who would not abandon Jesus to the grave is our Father, and he will never abandon us. Never. No, not ever. He will never leave us and he will never forsake us. So ask, seek, and knock.
Ask…seek…knock. “Martin Luther said that in the monastery he was never really taught to ask in prayer. But the discovery of justification by grace, which puts a person’s feet on the ground, taught him afresh the marvelously uninhibited and normal way we may approach the living God—as askers, as human beings who are in need. Asking is what prayer is; this passage and the Lord’s Prayer together carve this gracious fact into the doctrinal conviction of the church. If this passage can succeed in making disciples prayerful, the Sermon on the Mount is on its way to fulfillment ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ Jesus does not leave his church with a great deal of equipment, but he knows that if he can leave her with the simple, open-ended gift of prayer, he has already met most of her needs.” (Bruner, The Christbook, p. 278)