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9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”    (Luke 11:9-12  NIV)

God wants us to bring our petitions to him.  He promises to answer our prayers.  But does he promise to give us everything as if it were an itemized list?

The examples we have in verses 11 and 12 assure us that God will give us only good gifts. Therefore, it follows that if we ask for something that is not good for us, he might give us an answer that is not what we thought we wanted, but something better or more appropriate.

The important thing to take away from these verses is that God wants to give us what we ask, and he wants us to ask. We can ask with confidence knowing that whatever God gives us is what is best for us.

 

Verse 12 ends with the words “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” I believe Jesus is reminding us that the Holy Spirit is the best gift of all, and he will give us eyes to recognize how he is answering our prayers when the answer seems unexpected at first.

 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

 

(Ask and you will receive – kid’s version: http://honeycombkids.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/ask-and-you-will-receive/ )

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’   

       7 ”Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.   (Luke 11:5-8  NIV)

     As I read this passage I think of a co-workers who seem to always get what they wants when they wants it, yet others of us seem to be overlooked.  Perhaps it is because they have learned the art of petitioning with boldness.  This is what Jesus is encouraging us to do when we ask our petitions of him.  Sometimes we have to wait for our answers to come, but God still wants us to continue to ask for what we want.

     James tells us that when we ask, we must believe and not doubt, “because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”  (James 1:6-8)  If we truly believe God will answer our prayers, we will continue to ask and not give up when God says wait.

     It never hurts to stop and analyze our requests to be sure we are in line with his will, but as long as we believe we are led by his Spirit we should continue to be persistent in prayer.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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   1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”     

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father,
     hallowed be your name,
     your kingdom come.
     3 Give us each day our daily bread.
     4 Forgive us our sins,
     for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation. ‘”
   
  

As the Disciples observed Jesus praying, they wanted him to teach them to pray.  The Disciples must have recognized the benefits of prayer, even in the life of Jesus.  So Jesus taught them the things that make prayer effective. First, Jesus taught them to acknowledge God as our Father, and to praise his name.  We must know who it is we are speaking to, not only for the sake of praising God, but also for giving us the confidence that he is powerful enough to do what we ask. 

The Disciples were then instructed to pray for God’s kingdom to come.  We must always pray for God’s will to take place above our own.  If we are to serve him, we must align our will with his.

They were told to pray for daily needs, not for great wealth and riches.  I am reminded of the Israelites as they crossed the desert with Moses.  They were given daily manna.  If they tried to hoard it up it would spoil.

They were told to pray for God to forgive them of their sins and in the same sentence reminded to forgive others who sin against them.  Forgiveness is not a one-way street.  If we are unwilling to follow Christ’s example to forgive others, then we should not expect God to forgive us.

They were also instructed to pray that God would keep them from temptation.  This too is a daily need as there are temptations all around us demanding our attention and our time.  It is our relationship with God that enables us to overcome temptations of every kind.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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6 Praise be to the LORD,
     for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
     my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
     and I will give thanks to him in song.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people,
     a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
     be their shepherd and carry them forever.   (Psalm 28:6-9  NIV)

     Do you remember the first time you prayed a serious heart-felt prayer for something and God answered?  God answered such a prayer for me when I was in the second or third grade.  I was a farm girl and had taken my only pair of shoes off one Saturday in the field behind the barn where we were hoeing and pulling weeds.  The next morning I couldn’t find my shoes for church and remembered taking them off in the field.  I didn’t want to miss because I was trying to get perfect attendance, so I hurried to the field and searched the long rows from one end to the other without finding them.  Then it occurred to me that this could be something I should pray about.  I don’t remember my exact words, but my thinking was something like “God, if you really do answer prayers, help me find my shoes.”  I had no more than finished my prayer when I opened my eyes with new hope, turned around and there were my shoes on the ground behind me.  It was so awesome!  What a powerhouse this memory has been to me even to this day, some 50 years later.

     I could recall many other such experiences such as the time I prayed it wouldn’t rain on a particular outing of the Science Club.  I was looking forward to the trip so much and was afraid the rain would ruin everything.  I learned that day that God has a sense of humor.  It rained, but who cared?  We got hold of some squirt guns and had a blast.  It was one of the most fun outings in my memories of high school.

     And on a more serious note, I once came so close to a major financial catastrophe when I had misunderstood the fine print of my college loan.  I had gone too long without registering for another class which meant I would have to take 9 hours credit per semester instead of 6 or start paying my loan back immediately.  The only way out was for me to enroll in a class within a week and I wasn’t free from my job as school librarian for five more weeks.  The loans for my masters’ degree had seemed to be such a fantastic blessing from God, nothing short of a miracle in itself.  “How could you allow this dreadful thing to happen to me?” I poured my heart out to God.  I was heart sick.  I wanted to shake my fist at God.  “What can I do now?”  I pleaded with him.  I had to work to have an income.  I couldn’t afford pay for the loan; I was expecting to have it forgiven in return for service as a school librarian.  And I knew I couldn’t carry 9 hours of graduate work in addition to holding down my full-time job.  After much discussion of my situation with God, I picked up the letter that had come in the mail and decided to call the loan officer.  The only thing I could do was to enroll in a class within a week.  I looked again at the summer school schedule.  The summer term would start soon enough, but I would still be in school for four of the five weeks of class.  Praise the Lord!  There was one class, a class I needed, that was offered as a TV course with only two Saturdays that I would have to drive to the campus.  To quote David’s psalm, “Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.”  God had pulled yet one more miracle of many during my college career.  I was able to finish my degree with no more lapses in  time, and every class I needed to take was available at a time I could take it.

     I didn’t mean to spend so much time writing about myself, but it is through serious praying that we learn that God is there for us.   One day when we finally receive our heavenly reward and we see our lives pass before us, we will be astonished at how much was accomplished in our lives as a result of prayer.  Sadly, we may also have revealed how much we missed in life because we neglected to spend more time in prayer.

      Verse seven says God is my strength and shield.  It is through prayer that we lay claim to this strength.  God works through our prayers as well as our regular Bible reading to keep us strong.  Have you been keeping close contact with God lately, or do you need to move a little closer?  He promises that if we will draw near to him, he will draw near to us.  (James 4:8)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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