"Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you " Matthew 7:7
As I read those words today, I realized they were spoken toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount. There's a good bit that comes before the asking and receiving.
The "part that comes before" is not an accident. Jesus spoke as He did intentionally, so we'd do well to take a closer look, just in case we want to do any asking.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, then "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16
There's also the call to right living with right motives, in "... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:20
Jesus talked about our thought life and the sins we commit in our minds. He addressed how we respond to our enemies and those who are unkind to us, our relationship with our Heavenly Father, our prayer life, fasting, generosity, and worry.
Just before He talked about asking and finding, He covered the issue of judgmental, critical spirits. "First take the log out of your own eye," He demanded. Matt. 7:5
After all the other issues were addressed, Jesus moved to the topic of answered prayer. It was "after" for a reason. If we want the kind of answered prayers Jesus promised, we have to take to care of those issues covered in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.
I'm not saying that God refuses to answer the prayers of those with unconfessed sin. If He waited for sinless people to pray, He'd never get to answer any prayers.
The truth is that our relationship with our Heavenly Father matters. Prayer is a two-way conversation. If we're estranged from our Lord, because of ongoing sin, we can't expect to have a compelling conversation with our Heavenly Father.
If we want a vibrant intercessory prayer experience, we need to focus first on relationship.
Seek His face, not just His hand.
Today, let's ask God to do a heart-check and show us anything that needs to change, then allow Him to heal our "log-eye" disease, clean up our lamp so light can shine, and transform us into the image of Christ.
Let's seek His face, not His hand. When we do, many of those "problems" will fade into insignificance and we will be able to ask for those things He most desires to give.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Sure-Fire, No-Fail Cure for Whining.