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Seven Footsteps to Answered Prayer

Seek

Prayer is our direct access to the Throne of God’s Grace. Prayer is the essential in the life of the Christian as our life is in Jesus, as He lives through us and we through Him. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) By our prayers at the Throne of God’s Grace we are given the sufficient power to wage the battle in our spiritual warfare. In prayer at the throne we approach with a humble spirit and praise our Almighty Father. We come to the throne to worship Him and meditate upon His Word of truth and apply it to our lives. With our prayers to the throne we commune in the Spirit of Truth to have fellowship with our Creator. Previously, I pray and hope, we have expressed the desires of our heart in earnest prayer, we have come to the throne in dedicated commitment to the decision we have made in faith to walk the path to achieving that which we desire. And now we come seeking to the Throne of God’s Grace that we can work together with our God in full partnership with His blessing and for His Glory. We now claim the promise of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

This week we are looking at the next footstep before us in getting our prayers answered. That step is to seek. We look again to the half-brother of Jesus, James, who tells us that we receive not because we ask not. “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) My father told me a story once of a little girl who went to her father and asked for a glass of water. The father was busy working and said ok but then returned to his work. After a short time the little girl returned and again asked her father for a drink of water. The father nodded and said yes and she returned to her play. Then after another pause in time the father heard his little girl crying and he got up to see what the matter was. As he entered into her play room he asked what was wrong. She replied, “Dad I am really thirsty and I need a drink of water!” The father then knew that she was serious and quickly brought her a glass of water. The Apostle Paul tells is in the letter to the Ephesians that we are to preserver in our petitions. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Whenever Jesus described a principle or a truth He would follow with an illustration. The illustration of Jesus that I am going to use is the very story that inspired me to persist in a disagreement with a former employer. I used to drive a truck across country for a living and did so for about thirty years. I found out that a driver that was hired sometime after I was receiving a higher mileage rate than I was. I questioned the boss and he said that he was sorry and immediately increased my mileage pay. Still that was not a fair settlement in my mind as I have been driving for some time at what should have been the higher rate. I went back and told him how I felt about that and got the “oh well” treatment as an answer. It has been my experience in the past that I seldom get what I am seeking the first time around. So I went back and told the boss that I was not satisfied and felt that he should give me the back pay due. He did not agree and said I should be happy with what I have received. I still was not satisfied with the outcome and I prayed about it and then found this Scripture in the Gospel of Luke. (Luke 18:1-8) I was impressed with the story of Jesus and decided I should follow the example. The next time in I approached the boss again. He again put me off but I did not leave and finally he realized that I was serious and gave into my request and offered up the back pay due to me.

The point is I was right. The boss owed me money for services rendered to him and I was intent on receiving it. This is the same point in the story of the unrighteous judge. The lady had a justifiable grievance and she demanded justice from the judge. She would not back down and she showed persistence until the judge ruled in her favor. “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8) There are two things to see here. One is that if we know that we are right then we should not be deterred in seeking the outcome we believe to be righteous. Second if we have sought the council of prayer and believe the outcome will be according to what we have asked then in faith we must work towards that outcome.

Seeking then what we believe to be righteous must be expressed by our faith. In faith we have expressed our desires, in faith we have made the decision to pursue the goal of achieving our desire, and by our faith we are to walk the path that grants us that which is rightfully ours to receive. In Matthew Jesus tells the story of a mother whose daughter was demon possessed. She asked Jesus to heal her daughter but He did not respond to her. She persisted in such a way the disciples asked Jesus to send her away. Jesus explained to the mother, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The mother came and bowed down before Jesus in her desperation and exclaimed, “Lord, help me!” Of course Jesus knew what was going on and He was testing her faith. We have discussed in the past that Jesus was concerned because people only followed Him because of the signs and wonders that He performed. Jesus knew her heart but He wanted everyone to know the Heart that He seeks. Jesus replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” The mother, though a Gentile, believed that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for and expressed her faith with this reply, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” This is the point that Jesus was demonstrating for all to hear, that we prove our belief by the action of our faith. Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” The crowd was marveled and we see here a key to answered prayer, faith and persistence.

Let us return once more to the Gospel of Matthew. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Asking and seeking and knocking is a three step movement towards a successful prayer life. Each step gives its own reward to the one in prayerful fellowship with the Lord.

When we pray our petitions to the Lord we are making our desires known to God through our request. We are making the desires of our heart known to God and it is more than the simple glass of water to quench our thirst but for the living water that we shall never thirst again. “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) Perhaps we should as King David express our desire to have a clean heart, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) Then as our desire comes into alignment with the will and purpose of God the Father our request will be pure with the intent that His name will be glorified. Our reward for asking is that through faith we shall receive.

When we seek in prayer we are searching after God. “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) When we diligently seek God He will reveal Himself to us. As Jesus revealed Himself to the woman at Jacob’s well. “The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus *said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:25-26) The reward for seeking is that we will find.

When we knock in prayer we are knocking on a door that only God can open. “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:7) In perseverance we knock until the door is opened unto us. We are asking and seeking and continue knocking that which we must desire to enter in through the door of the heavenly palace of our Great King. His palace is the reward for our knocking and there is no greater reward.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 15, 2015.

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