Hello, everyone! I am sad that this is my first blog in over a month, but I have been super busy here in Minnesota! LEAD has been amazing so far! The days have been crazy! Between classes\activities, work, and homework, we are all very busy! I am learning so much, and with some pretty incredible people! There are 16 of us in LEAD – 10 girls and 6 guys – and I feel like I’ve known them my whole life. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only been here for 1 month; it feels like it’s been so much longer than that, in a good way! I have so much anticipation for the rest of this semester and whatever it will hold!
This week, we learned about public speaking and wrote 10-minute sermons based off of a favorite passage or “heart message” – something you are very passionate about. We presented them in class yesterday and today, which I enjoyed so much! And even though I was so nervous at first, my sermon turned out okay! Haha! (It was actually one of my first presentations in front of a group of people. I much prefer writing to speaking in public, which is something I have wanted to improve.) I really enjoyed hearing everyone else’s messages, and getting to know them better through what they shared!
So here is the written version of my sermon! I hope it is encouraging! 😊
Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a serpent? If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
This passage has been one of my favorites for the past few years or so. I used to not understand or really believe the first half of it, because I thought that it meant you can ask God for anything you want, and He’ll just give it, which I knew was not completely true. And so I was confused by the passage.
Because even though I’ve had many specific prayers answered, I have also had many that were not answered how I’d asked, or seemed like they weren’t answered at all, from small requests to things I’ve interceded for years. And that can be really disheartening. I’ve been through seasons of discouragement and times when I didn’t pray about certain things, because they felt hopeless and beyond His Reach.
I’m sure every Christian can relate, at least to being discouraged by prayers that weren’t answered how they’d like. Oftentimes, we pray for certain things, and it can seem that God either doesn’t respond or He answers a different way than what we asked for. When this happens, we can so easily become angry with God, or misunderstanding of Him, because we ultimately think that our plans and desires are better than His. We forget that He is sovereign and His plan is perfect. We become our own gods. And, we lose sight of what Jesus was really saying in this passage, as we fail to put the scripture pieces together.
One very important thing from other pieces of scripture that I used to miss while interpreting this passage was the fact that as we spend time with God and our minds are renewed, we can actually desire the things that He desires. We learn to not ask for things out of selfish ambition, but for His Glory. And those are the kinds of prayers He exactly answers – the ones in line with His Will. Those are the requests that Jesus is talking about.
One of my favorite verses about the renewed mind is Romans 12:2, which says: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s Will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect Will”.
The apostle Paul tells us in this verse that when we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, we know what God’s Will is. Therefore, we are able to ask, seek, and knock for the things that are His Will, and He will answer just like Jesus tells us in Matthew, Chapter 7.
As I looked deeper into verses 7 and 8, I found that the Greek words used for ask, seek, and knock do not mean “do it once or every now and then”. Not at all. Jesus isn’t telling us ask, seek, and knock just once or twice. The tense He used emphasizes persistently and constantly asking, seeking, and knocking.
Just let that sink in for a minute. Jesus tells us to persistently and constantly ask, seek, and knock, with our hearts right and our minds renewed.
In verses 9 to 11, Jesus goes on to say that even we, being sinful human beings, strive to do what’s right and best for our children and families. We can also think about our own parents in this illustration. Though we know that no one is perfect, I hope that we can all look up to our parents with confidence that they try and have always tried their best to provide and do what’s best for us, to the best of their ability.
In comparison to earthy parents, Jesus then directs our attention to our Perfect Heavenly Father, Who gives only good things to His children and Who never makes a mistake. He sees and knows everything, so His Best is the very best, and only He can give it.
As Paul states in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”.
One reason that He doesn’t always answer our requests how we’d like Him to is that ultimately, He knows what’s best and He does it. Especially when bad things happen or things just aren’t going our way, we need to stand firm in this.
When we pray, we need to be confident that He hears and answers us. And that He always does the best thing, even when it’s not exactly what we ask for. Sometimes, our prayers aren’t answered because of our flawed state. Though we may be asking for good things, they may not always be in line with His Will and Truth. That’s why we have to dedicate ourselves to knowing His Will and honoring Him, as our hearts are continually made right and our minds are renewed by Him.
The Life of Jesus is a wonderful example of this message. Jesus knew the Father, and had an intimate relationship with Him. He often went away by Himself to pray and spend time with the Father. He prayed in line with God’s Will and Word, because He knew His Father intimately. He also demonstrated praying simply for God’s Will to be done (in The Lord’s Prayer, when He says,”Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”.
Having complete faith in God also plays a huge role in our prayers and attitudes towards Him. We have to believe that He is who He says He is, that He hears and answers our prayers, and that He always does what’s best for us.
And as we put our faith completely in God, we begin to seek Him, and never stop seeking; to knock, and keep knocking until the doors are opened; and to ask and keep on asking for our heart’s desires that we know are in line with His Word and our motives are to bring Him Glory. This is a crucial component of our prayers and lives. Because He is so worthy.
I hope that you are encouraged by this passage, and that it inspires you to dedicate yourself more fully to asking, seeking, and knocking – constantly and persistently.