Ask, Seek and Knock II – Sabotaging Our Prayers
Tongue has the power of life and death and words spoken in prayer, especially when we do not know God or know His will and desires, are sure to result in un-answered prayer.

Ask, Seek and Knock II – Sabotaging Our Prayers

        Lord Jesus’ promise to give what we ask, to be found by the seekers and to open the door for those who knock is well known. But are all the three aspects of this promise inter-related and is seeking Him an essential ingredient of an answered prayer? Where and how do we knock and which door is likely to be opened by God? Do we sabotage our prayers in some way by not following the command in its fullness?

        Asking and seeking -Lord Jesus’command has three elements about asking, seeking and knocking on the door but generally we restrict ourselves to the first part itself. Asking in prayer is not about dialing a number but listening to His voice in His Word, looking for and understanding Him and then in the soul to peep into His holiness and His heart to touch Him. We do all this in obedience and love. God is about relationships for He visits Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden every evening to listen to them and teach them His ways. Even after sin of disobedience He seeks them. God is not lost that we have to find Him, we are lost in the darkness of this fallen world and this seeking is as much about seeking self as about seeking God.

        We are created in God’s image and likeness and finding that original state is the main reason of this command and all of God’s commands lead us to Him to be transformed and receive this image. After their sin Adam and Eve ‘heard the voice of the LORD walking in the Garden’ and the reading tells us about God’s voice walking for the Hebrew word used is ‘mithallek’ which is a participle. Thus it should read that God caused His voice to travel for He could not be present where sin was and God was evicted by us from His own creation. God thereafter became a visitor on the earth and that too surrounded by fire which prepared the place for His Divine presence. In the Old Testament God visited Abraham and Moses and everywhere else His word was directly received by the prophets or the concerned persons.

        Lord Jesus’ coming as man is to restore what we had lost and that in faith we become ‘children of God’ (John 1:12). Everyone who believes in the Son of God gets into this Divine relationship individually and not through anyone else’s faith or work. Lord Jesus commands, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matthew 6:33). As members of God’s Divine family we become citizens of heaven and derive certain rights and responsibilities. We can only understand these once we are aware of what the kingdom is about for without that we are holding a blank signed cheque without knowing the bank. With the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are filled with His light while yet surrounded by darkness of sin all around.  

       Kingdom of God is both physical and spiritual depending on the period we are in. It was both physical and spiritual in the Garden of Eden and is presently spiritual through the Holy Spirit in all believers. During the Millennial Rule of Lord Jesus and thereafter it will become spiritual and physical again. The blessings of seeking God’s kingdom are manifold.

      First is about receiving from the kingdom – The Son of God was fully aware of every detail of the kingdom and with only five loaves of bread and two small fish He could get five thousand men (families) to sit and be filled. Taking the bread and fish in His hands and ‘looking up to heaven He blessed and broke them’. Hebrew word ‘anablepos’ is translated as looking up to and has ‘ana’ as a prefix meaning upwards and ‘blepo’ meaning ‘to see something material with spiritual results. Thus ‘it carries what is seen into the non-physical (immaterial) or spiritual realm so a person can take the needed action’. Lord Jesus knew the resources of heavenly kingdom and could tap into the same to establish a multiplication line for the bread and fish.  

      Second, is about preparing for the eternal home there – I must understand what to gather here for use in the heavenly kingdom. Apostle Paul cautions us about the quality of our deeds in this life which will get revealed by the fire to be destroyed or earn reward (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

     Third is about self realization and introspection – Where am I heading and am I focused on the Lord or am I looking at the storms all around? What do my deeds reflect? Lord Jesus ended the parable of the talents by revealing who will ‘inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ and these are who feed the poor; provide a drink to the thirsty; helping the stranger; providing clothes for the naked; visiting the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25:34-40). Do my works follow these guidelines or am I totally self centered?

      Seeking God’s kingdom does not ensure worldly comforts and all of its resources are for God’s glory only. How do we know we are truly seeking God’s kingdom first? We ask this question to ourselves – where are my energies and resources focused on, on things of this world that will perish or in service of God which live for eternity? The Scripture promise guarantees that, ‘God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). God has promised for His people to supply every need but He knows what we actually need that will benefit in the long run riches or poverty; loss or solitude. God loved both Job (Job 1 & 2) and Prophet Elijah but He let Satan absolutely wreck Job’s life and queen Jezebel to break the spirit of Elijah to make him flee (1 Kings 18-19) but in both cases God allowed restoration after these difficult times of trials.

       God does not promise a life of riches and disease free living and asking and seeking is not the key to gaining wealth but to follow Him to be transformed into His image and likeness under the watchful guidance of the Holy Spirit; to think, to feel and ask like His own Son. For this we have to knock at His heart to understand Him.

         We should knock at which door? – This knock is not for salvation, for that is already promised to all believers. Prophet Samuel was displeased for the Israelites sought a king like other nations and God advised him to do as they asked for ‘they have not rejected you but they have rejected Me (God) that I should not reign over them’. Again the prophet warned the Israelites, ‘you have rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversaries and your tribulations’ (1 Samuel 8:7 & 10:19). God revealed the pain of His heart to the prophet for the Israelites demand for a king and this after God had expressly commanded them in their Shema prayer, Listen to Me; ‘love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). And Lord Jesus added ‘all your mind’ also. Thus thoughts, feelings and emotions; desires and all resources provided by God are to be used to express pour love for god.

       God is willing to open His heart to those who come knocking to know His will and His innermost thoughts and feelings. Saul was rejected as king by God for ‘the LORD has sought a man after His own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14) and David was blessed and called such a man by God.

       How can I aspire to be such a man if I do not what is in God’s heart? – King David declared, ‘God has spoken once, twice I have heard this’, that whatever God has commanded I repeat it twice to myself for repeated emphasis that I do not miss out in obedience (Psalm 62:11). Lord Jesus called His disciples friends, ‘for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you’. Friendship is about intimacy and that is what the Lord demands and as a friend I must follow His commands by understanding the spirit of the command and not just the letter only ((John 15:15 & 14). David confessed his sin and admitting before God, he cried out, ‘Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight’ (Psalm 51:3-4). But the sin of adultery was with Bathsheba and against Uria, her husband and causing his death a sin against the wife. But David understood the pain that he had caused to God for he could gaze in there.

       God has given whatever I have and using it for evil purposes is to cause grief to God. Lord Jesus was well aware of our selfish nature for we only ask and neither seek Him nor desire to know Him by getting a peep into His heart. He comes knocking that we open the door to our hearts for Him to share Himself with us (Revelation 3:20). Of course He will not do for me, to contravene what He has decreed, but since I do not know what He has already decided, I must ask whatever I need while surrendering to His Sovereign authority to answer.

        But why pray when what He has decreed will in any case happen? – God actually does things in response to prayer and Scripture clarifies that ‘You do not have for you do not ask’ (James 4:2). Prayer is about surrendering to seek His power to work in and through us and God intervenes to deliver us when we cry out to Him (Psalm 72:12-14). God spoke to Moses from the fire of the burning bush, that He had heard the cry of the Israelites who were held as slaves in Egypt and had come down to deliver them. My job is to ask in humble submission, seek Him through His Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and knock on the door of God’s heart to know Him better and follow His commands thorough proper while understanding of the same and wait for God to answer while persevering in prayer.

      Do we in any way sabotage our prayers? – In faith when we join God’s heavenly family we must also get ready to be used by God as He used His own Son and then speak His language. Lord Jesus went to Jairus’ house, on his request, to heal his sick daughter but was told that she had already died. But the Lord told them, ‘The child is not dead, but sleeping’ and brought her back to life (Mark 5:39). You do not have for you ask for fulfilling your lusts and desires and any prayer that seeks to fulfill evil intentions will not only be rejected but may also deserve retribution. Unanswered prayers test our faith and long waiting of days, months or even years may cause despair. The parable of the persistent widow and the judge was told by the Lord to encourage us to endure in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). Scripture teaches us what hinders our prayers but there is also another category, the un-answering caused by us. Many times the Holy Spirit turns our eyes inward to our hearts and minds for us to find the reason of un-answered prayer, that is not in God because our life styles also impact our prayers. Some of the reasons for this could be –

      First, living a sinful and unrepentant life – Sin and God can never be together but we presume that He must listen to us no matter what we do. It is clear that ‘If I had cherished inequity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened’ (Psalm 66:19) and that that ‘your inequities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear’ (Isaiah 59:2). We are warned to ‘be self controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayer’ (1Peter 4:7).   

       Second, ignoring and disobeying God’s commands in His Word – ‘If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination’ (Proverbs 28:9). God’s Word is a blessing from Him to help us know Him and develop a close relationship with Him. If we are strangers to Him despite His having called us, our prayers are sabotaged by us.

      Three, praying for self glory – Lord Jesus warns us about praying like the hypocrites who ‘love to stand and pray in the Synagogues and at the street corners’ to be seen by others (Matthew 6:5). Prayer is that God’s name be hallowed and any attempt to deviate from this causes lack of response from God.

       Four, harbor doubts about God – James 1:5 is about doubting God’s intention. The father of the deaf and mute boy cried out in doubt and the Lord replied, ‘If You can? Everything is possible for the one who believes’ (Mark 9:23). God rewards those who seek Him.

      Five,  praying in opposition to the wife – We are commanded, ‘husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered’ (1 Peter 3:7). After marriage the two become one and dishonoring one part, child of God, will hinder our prayers.

       Six, irreverence in prayer – Lord Jesus ‘in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to Him, who could save Him from death, and was heard because of His reverence (godly fear)’ (Hebrews 5:7). We become children of God and call Him ‘Our Father’ but He is God and cannot be treated like an earthly being. ‘Do not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few’ (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

        George Herbert’s poem ‘Prayer I’ refers to prayer as ‘God’s breath in man returning to his birth; The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage’. God breathed into man and in prayer man breathes back to God and I must ensure that my breath is not foul smelling because of unrepentant sins. In prayer my soul is communicating while my heart is peering into the holiness of God. We pray not losing heart, devouring God’s Word, seeking His glory, loving others while looking on Lord Jesus expectantly, in reverence persevering in hope of fulfillment of His promises. He is able to do the impossible but even if He does not we keep praying more, praying regularly, always joyfully giving Him thanks.

          Prayer is not like sending a message on a whatsapp group but it is about understanding God’s word, meditating upon the same and knowing Him. How can one ask something from Him if we do not know Him for who He is, His feelings of love and grace but mixed with justice. A close relationship with God is thus developed and then in fulfillment of Lord Jesus’ promise, we can approach Him as friend who is God and our High Priest in heaven. That closeness then results in rightful asking and joyful giving by God.

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