Ask, Seek & Knock-I   Receiving Answers to Prayers
God desires to bless us and lead us into His Divine presence of abundance and His Spirit guides us to ask in prayer for His glory and for His kingdom for we are here to further that.

Ask, Seek & Knock-I Receiving Answers to Prayers

         Lord Jesus’ promise is categorical, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find and knock to get the door opened. But not everyone gets immediate answers to prayers and no one understands the exact way to pray. What is the sequence and connection of the three aspects listed in the promise and how much each influences the other is difficult to fathom.  

       What type of prayer is answered by God – God is never busy, He never ignores His children’s requests, He never lacks resources, never confused but always wise, always loving and gracious and He answers with whatever is best suited to the one who asks. The first clarification about answering prayers is, ‘And this is the confidence that we in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us’ (1John 5:14). And the second part is, ‘whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him’ (1 John 3:22). But what defines whatsoever in this promise? The third parr of prayer is, ‘Whatsoever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father is glorified in the Son’ (John 14:13).   

        First, asking according to His will – Scripture reveals two possible meanings of His will. The first is, what He command us to do or His will of command as disclosed in the written word; and the second is what He decides to do or His will of decree. The difference in the two as per the Scripture is, God’s  decreed will is that ‘our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases’ (Psalm 115:3) and ‘He works all things according to the counsel of His will’ (Ephesians 1:11). Second is the will of command, ‘this is the will of God, your sanctification’ (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and that ‘Whoever does the will of God, the same is My brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3:35). But the same act may be right for His decree but not for His command. The command of God is ‘you shall not kill’ (Exodus 20:13) as compared to His decree, ‘It was the will of the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief’ (Isaiah 53:10). Further to this is the getting together of Herod, Pilate, Gentiles and Jewish crowds for the killing of God’s Son to do ‘whatsoever God’s hand and His counsel had predestined to take place’ (Acts 4:27-28). God decreed the death through crucifixion of His Son but it is against His will of command.

      Which will is linked to prayer in 1 John 5:14? – What God decrees may not be known to us except through prophetic messages in the Scripture or through His chosen prophets. Book of Revelation records the events leading to Lord Jesus’ second coming and even He Himself had also warned of these future events. God’s will of command is expressly mentioned in the Scripture. Joshua is assured by God  of His Divine presence with him; and that ‘no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to your fathers’ (Joshua 1:3-9). And the next command is to ‘obey the law which Moses commanded you (the Torah) and do not turn to the left or right; the Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth and you shall meditate on it day and night’. It is not about physical looking at the Word but about the soul and spirit meditation of God’s Word to obey the same. Obedience led to Joshua stopping the sun and the moon for a while. We must ask in obedience to His will of command as explained in the Scripture.

        The next integral part of the command to ask is ‘whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him’ (1 John 3:22) and this is then linked by the Lord to ‘Whatsoever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father is glorified in the Son’ (John 14:13). Thus defining whatsoever you ask is contained in Deuteronomy 28:3-14 where the blessings that will accrue to obedience to His word are listed. Lord Jesus has also promised, ‘I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly’ as part of the same definition (John 10:10). The life giving status of the Son of God is that ‘in Him was life, and the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4), the light that separates us from darkness. God made us alive with Lord Jesus from the death of our sins (Ephesians 2:5) and the Holy Spirit teaches us all things and reminds us the Savior Lord’s words (John 14:26). We have to seek His Word to understand ‘ whatsoever’ which must provide abundant life under the guidance of His Spirit and which must glorify the Father in the Son.

     Why invoke Lord Jesus’ name in all prayers? – Only the Son of God prayed the prayers that were always answered by the Father and He has blessed us with the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray and also to pray for and with us. We are told to seek every blessing in the Savior’s name from the Father, but why did Lord Jesus give this command? Lord Jesus commanded ‘ask the Father in My name’ (John 15:16) and Apostle Paul also repeated this to ‘call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1:2). Further we are told to give thanks ‘to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 5:20). There are five reasons we pray in Lord Jesus name for praying in His name is to give Him glory and glorify the Father in Him and in this way we consciously take up the name of Lord Jesus when we pray to the Father.

      First, He understands our weaknesses– The Scripture is clear that in Lord Jesus ‘we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). Also to make us join His Divine family ‘He had to be made like His brothers in every respect’ (Hebrews 2:17) and thus God became man to experience all that we undergo to fully sympathize with our weaknesses. Without reducing anything of His Divine status He added to Himself our full humanity to be our mediator due to His dual role as God and man.

       Second, as a sufferer He understands human pain – Because ‘He Himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18). He became man to fully take upon himself the unavoidable reality of life in a fallen world, the suffering and pain for ‘He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4). He underwent the extremes of suffering right on His journey to the cross and He is our fellow sufferer. Our sufferings prompt us to pray and we do it in His name who knows what it is like to suffer.

      Third, as Lamb of God He paid in full what we deserved for our sin – God’s Son became the sacrificial offering for our sins and ‘the LORD has laid on Him the inequity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:3). He died the death that we deserved and when we pray in His name we acknowledge gratefully what He has done for us through His shed blood on the cross.

      Four, He has opened the doors to heaven for us – After crucifixion, His resurrection, ascension and enthronement in heaven, He has opened the doors of heaven for us through the ‘torn curtain’ to take us right into the presence of God the Father (Hebrews 10:20). We can draw near to the Father in prayer for the risen Son of God has drawn near to Him in person with the human body and we as human beings can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence in Him ( Hebrews 4:16).  

      Five, He has restored our relationship with God the Father – As our High Priest He brings us to God not only as our representative, but also in prayer and one day soon in person also. Through Him we are no longer strangers but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God and have access by one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18-19).

       Praying in Lord Jesus’ name is not about uttering the words but is about why and how we pray and why and how we have any relationship with God. That is also the reason why God the Father must be glorified in our prayers which are then answered due to the mediation of our Advocate and High Priest in heaven who glorifies the Father in everything.

       How should our prayers meet the criteria that the ‘Father is glorified in the Son’ – Our prayers are answered and we receive for we ‘do those things that are pleasing to God’ and ‘we ask according to His will’ and both have conscious submission to His will (1 John 3:22 & 5:14). But what pleases God? First, ‘Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God’ (1 Peter 5:6). In this we admit we can do nothing of our own as our Lord admitted and in this submission the Father is glorified (John 5:30). Second, ‘we all stumble in many ways. and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man’ (James 3:2). What he says is in prayer for we do not suddenly become perfect in prayer for we are fallible. God is pleased when we admit this and His Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26). Third, when we ask in faith without doubting we glorify God and then we willingly submit to His decision to give what is best for us (James 1:6). Daniel’s three friends declared in faith and submission, ‘our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace and He will’ but even if He does not we will remain His worshippers alone (Daniel 3:17-18). Fourth, when we put across our view before God even if it appears to be challenging Him. After the Israelites made the golden calf Moses prayed to God to forgive their sin or else ‘I pray, blot me out of Your book’ (Exodus 32:32). And again Moses cried out to God ‘if Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here’ (Genesis 33:15). Though both instances it seems to be about Moses challenging God, yet God was pleased with him. Fifth, God is glorified when we empathize with others. Lord Jesus cried while grieving with Mary and Martha while knowing that He was going to bring Lazarus to life shortly thereafter. He could then say in prayer, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me’ without having spoken anything (John 11:35& 41). Lord Jesus was ‘moved with compassion and healed their sick’ and then fed them (five thousand men or families) with only five loaves of bread and two small fish (Matthew 14:14 & 19. God the Father was glorified and heavens were opened by Him to meet the need as projected by the Son.

     Why our prayers are not answered? – God gives us what is best for us. A young child in a toy store wants everything that he sees but the wise parent knows what is best for him and gets that only. In prayer ‘Whatever we ask, we receive from Him’ where the meaning of ‘whatever’ is decided by the all-wise loving plan of God for our good, who are His children. Whatever we ask He may limit or increase, hasten or delay and purify and complete. If we ask for bread, He will not give us a stone but He may give us pizza or cake or something better. Likewise if we ask for fish, He as a loving and caring Father may give us cheese or some other substitute which would turn out to be better in the long run for our health and our being (Matthew 7:9-11).

      God refines us through our trials and delay in answering our prayers continues the process of refining, ‘For My own sake; for My own sake I will do it; for how should My name be profaned?’ (Isaiah 48:10-11). God does everything for His glory and our prayers are delayed or amended to meet that end so that we do not cause His name be profaned before unbelievers.

      God does not allow boasting and His resources are infinite, His wisdom is unsearchable and His love is perfect. Apostle Paul was lifted up into Paradise and ‘heard inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter’ but to avoid any chance of his exalting himself, he was given a thorn in the flesh, a weakness to fight with (2 Corinthians 12:2-9).

       Even in refusal or delay God desires the best for us for ‘all things work out for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose’. And also that He did not spare His own Son for us ‘how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:28 & 32). The qualifying clause for this giving is ‘with Him’ and unless we seek the Son of God we may not get the promised all things.  

      We do not ask many things in prayer for our own limitations in imagining all that God desires to give us and ‘you do not have because you do not ask’ (James 4:2). So let us be encouraged to pray while humbly admitting our failures to glorify God through our prayers. Our prayers are the causes of great blessings God has planned for us and all that He has decreed for us.

     When our prayers are aimed at glorifying God and whatever we ask is for furthering His kingdom on earth or for the good of His people, the answers will always be forthcoming. But when we ask for our bodily needs or to fulfill the ‘lusts of the flesh’ God will turn His face away. We are the ‘light of the earth’ and our prayers must reflect this fact to lead others from darkness into His Divine light through His Word. God wants to use us as He used His Son for others and He is then always ready to respond to our requests.                     

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