“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
– Matthew 7:7-11 (Jesus speaking; our 21th segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
Jesus here briefly returns to the subject of prayer. Upon reflection, these digressions into the subject of prayer are not so much departures from the main subject of the sermon as they are illustrations of one of the most fundamental implications of the sermon: personal relationship with God. More specifically, personal relationship with God as a father.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had made the faith handed down to them from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the Law handed down to them through Moses, to be an essentially human social activity – devoid of any actual dependence upon God. God was talked about, but He was far off and, effectively, aloof. Daily religious activity was all about things done in the presence of people, not in the presence of God.
In our day, many people have done the same thing with Christianity. It has become largely a human social activity. Being a Christian means hanging around Christians, doing things that Christians do. To become a Christian means identifying with Christians. To cease being a Christian means to cease identifying with Christians. God’s name just becomes window dressing to all this.
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ antidote to the religiosity of the 21st century as well as the 1st century. God will give to us what we need each day – and what we need is spiritual in nature. When we accept and practice the spiritual goodness He imparts to us, all the physical needs we have are met as a matter of course.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, I’ll live as a child before You, intent on imitating You, and looking to You for the daily nourishment I’ll need…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)