By Ben Simpson
Matthew 7:7 & 1 Peter 5:6-7
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
When we pray we bring our petitions to God. We make requests. We ask God to bring about change. We pray with the expectation that the world will be different. The King James Version translation of James 5:16b captures it well: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Old Testament scholar and theologian John Goldingay writes, “Prayer is designed to persuade God to take action in the world.” When we bring our petitions before God we stand confident that God has the power to intervene. God can alter the course of history. God can establish justice. God can heal disease and provide work and put broken people back together.
We have been given numerous examples in the Scriptures of God taking action in response to prayer. In 1 Samuel, Hannah prays to God for the gift of a child, and God provides a son. Samuel is dedicated to serve the Lord as a priest and becomes a prophet of Israel. Samuel anointed Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David. In 1 Kings, Elijah prays that the rains would cease and then later that they would resume, and God responds to his prayer. Nehemiah asks God for help in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and God grants him favor before Artexeres, King of Persia, who provides Nehemiah with everything he needs to be successful.
In John 11:38-44, Jesus raises a man named Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:41-42, Jesus looks upward and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus then calls in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man walks, breathes, and talks. Jesus tells those standing by to free Lazarus from the grave clothes. The Father responds to the prayer of Jesus. Many believed in Jesus because Lazarus had been raised (John 12:9-11).
God does not always answer our petitions according to our desires. But God does command us to bring our requests to him, to humble ourselves, to unload our anxieties and burdens, to ask for help, and to seek God’s face. God, in his wisdom, sorts out what is best. Our call is to trust, to pray in faith and boldness, to persist and be fervent, and to remain obedient to the calling of Christ in calm and storm.
As God’s providence and sovereign will works itself out, God may weave our petitions and requests into the unfolding purposes of God’s kingdom. God is the Master, we are the servants. But our Master listens, responds, and has the power to act.
Ask confidently, pray expectantly, wait patiently, and trust deeply. Present your requests to God.
What are your needs? Present your requests to God.
Father, who dwells in heaven, I trust that you hear my prayers. You know my every need. I present my requests to you. Where I need strength, please provide it. Where I need wisdom, please grant it. Where I need direction, please point the way. In all things, tune my heart to sing thy grace and to always trust in your goodness, for you are the God of love, the God who works all things together for good for those who love you, who are called according to your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.