The sermon that I heard at church this morning has just really stuck with me since then. No matter what I'm doing I have thoughts and ideas and Scripture from it rolling around in my head. So, I decided to write a bit about it and see if that helped me make sense of it all. That being said, I make no promises about this post making a lot of sense. I hope that it will, but I'm not sure because I'm still thinking this through as I write it.
At church right now we're coming close to the end of a series in the Sermon on the Mount. It's been a really good series. Today was on 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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)
The pastor this morning was talking about how we can often take just the first two verses out of context and see them as saying that God will give us anything we ask for. But if you look at the rest of this passage and the rest of Scripture it's quite clear that that's not what Jesus is saying here.
Jesus is talking about how when we ask God for good things, He gives them to us. God wants to give us good gifts, but we have to ask Him.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. John 15:7
You do not have beacuse you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with srong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2-3
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The key in our asking things of God is that we be connected to Him - that we be acknowledging Him in all areas of our lives. Then what we ask Him for will be things that He wants to give us.
The part that really struck something with me was when the pastor started talking about how one of the things Scripture tells us to ask God for is the nations - that they would come to God and be restored.
May the peoples praise you, I God; may all the peoples parise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide that nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, I God; may all the peoples praise you. Psalm 67:3-5
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to persih, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
If my people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
God desires for us to pray to Him and ask for the nations to return to Him!
That seems like a huge goal and a huge request. And it only happens as we allow ourselves to be completely transformed by God so that we can make a difference in our corner of the world - in our school or workplace or apartment building or neighbourhood. As we allow ourselves to be transformed, we change to world around us.
We are called to not only allow ourselves to be transformed, but we are also called to pray for our world. Nothing is impossible for God . . . what we need to do is ask!
So, this is where I've been thinking since this morning. How am I doing at praying for the salvation of the world? Of the city and region that I live in? Of the people in my apartment building?
Honestly, it's not something I've thought a lot about ever. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is what I need to be doing. World transformation and salvation happens through the people of God getting on their knees and praying - asking God to do it! It doesn't happen by anything we can do on our own!
I must say, this morning really challenged me to make this a part of my prayer time regularly. Rather than something that I just think of from time to time, it needs to be a part of my journey with God . . . because that is how the world will be changed!