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Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

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The Sermon on the Mount

When We Pray

Matthew 7.7-11

(Resourced from Adrian Rogers)

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[Research at San Francisco General Hospital has revealed that victims of heart attack, heart failure and other cardiac problems who were remembered in prayers fared better than those who were not.

      Cardiologist Randy Byrd assigned 192 patients to the "prayed-for" group and 201 patients to the "non-prayed-for" group. All patients were in the coronary intensive care unit. Patients, doctors and nurses did not know which group patients were in. Prayer group members were scattered around the nation and given only the first names, diagnoses and prognoses of patients.

      The researcher said that the results were dramatic. The prayed-for group had significantly fewer complications than the unremembered group. And fewer members of the former died. The latter group was five times more likely to develop infections requiring antibiotics, and three times more likely to develop a lung condition, leading to heart failure.

      These findings were published in the proceedings of the American Heart Association. Maybe doctors ought to be writing on their order sheets: "Pray at least three times a day."[1]] 

["Nothing will drive a parent to prayer like children."] 

[Notice three key words in our text - ask, seek and knock.] 

["These are three little words, but a big door can swing on little hinges
and open to a vast room where multiplied treasures are hidden."] 

Three things to know when we pray: 

A.    When We Ask, Desire Is Expressed (vs 7-8, James 4.2; Luke 18.1; Mark 14.38; Philip 4.6; 1 Sam 12.23; Matt 6.7-8; Philip 4.6) [- Ask, and it shall be given you . . . 8 For every one that asketh receiveth . . . - We ask because there are things that we want.   There is nothing wrong with wanting something and there is even less wrong with asking God for something you want.  Our Lord Jesus Christ declared on that mount that day, ASK! The greatest problem we face is not unanswered prayer, it is unoffered prayer,] 

[James 4:2 . . .  yet ye have not, because ye ask not. ] 

[Hence, our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to pray by telling us to ASK.   In other places, as recorded in other Bible passages, our Lord said,] 

[Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint [Fail in cowardice][2]; ] 

[Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.]  

[Philip. 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.]  

[Did you know that it is a sin not to pray?] 

[1 Samuel 12:23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: ] 

[Why does God want us to ask?] 

[Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. ] 

         [We don't pray to impress God – We could never hope to impress God with our grand and eloquent prayer language.  Nor could we hope to impress God with our passion or persistence in prayer.  Our prayers just can not impress Almighty God.] 

         [We don't pray to inform God – We could never tell God in prayer something He doesn’t already know.  Our Heavenly Father is omniscient.  He know the beginning from the ending.  He already knows what we need.] 

         [We pray to invite God – We pray to invite God to lead us, guide us, protect us, deliver us, and reveal us through His answer to our situation.] 

Three things God offers through prayer: 

1.      The Discernment Factor [-  When I am praying I am working with God.] 

[2 Cor. 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. ] 

["God could do it without me, But He loves me too much to leave me out."]

2.      The Development Factor [- I grow when I pray.] 

[John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. ] 

3.      The Dependency Factor [- When we ask we are depending on God.  What can I ask for?] 

[Philip. 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ] 

[Anything you can pray for.  If there is anything you can't pray for then you don't need it.] 

["The devil can't keep God from answering, So he will try to keep you from asking." ]

B.     When We Seek, Direction Is Explored (Psalm 37.4) [- Sometimes we don't know what to ask for, or we ask for the wrong thing. Seeking is to go beyond mere asking.  Seeking is to not just knock on heaven’s door, but it is to seek the presence of the Lord of the house or the presence of our Heavenly Father.  It is to take our prayers from the threshold into the throne room.] 

[This touches on the ultimate reality of all prayer.  Prayer is meant to be communication with God, not just demanding from God.  In prayer we must seek to get in touch with our Heavenly Father in such a way that His desires become our desires.  This is the truth expressed in,] 

[Psalms 37:4 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. ]

[Therefore, when we seek God we are not just looking to get what we think we want, we are looking to discover what our Heavenly Father knows we really need, and then we ask Him for what He already desires to give us.]

What are we looking for when we seek?  

1.      We Seek The Purposes of God (James 4.3; Matt 6.10) [- When we refuse to seek the heart of God in our prayers, we are praying in selfishness.  We know what we want, and we demand to get what we want.  However, if we are truly seeking our Heavenly Father’s best for us, then we will come to Him seeking to understand what He already knows.] 

[Do you know what usually happens when you pray for something and your prayers go unanswered?  James wrote,] 

[James 4:2-3 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.]

[When you seek your Heavenly Father in prayer don’t just demand from God, seek to understand what your Lord’s purposes are for you in your situation and then ask for your Heavenly Fathers help.  This is to pray,] 

[Matthew 6:10 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.]

["We can ask for personal needs, But not for selfish needs."] 

2.      We Seek The Presence of God (James 4.8-10)  

[Illustration – Have you ever been in your house doing something really important, like taking a well deserved nap, or watching your favorite program; when all of a sudden there was a knock at the door, or the door bell rang.  What did you do?  That’s right, you went and answered the door.  Have you ever answered the door just to realize that there was no one at the door.] 

[So having looking around in curiosity you went back to resume your coveted nap just to hear another knock at the door.  But when you got to the door, again, no one was there.  Now this time you are going to watch.  You want to catch that prankster.] 

[This is what we do when we pray selfishly and inconsequently.  Folks when we pray we need to seek to come into the presence of God.  The Bible says,] 

[James 4:8-10 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. ] 

[Someone has said, "The gift without the giver is bear."] 

[Your Heavenly Father wants to help you, protect you, give to you, and guide you; but more than anything else He just wants you.] 

3.      We Seek The Power of God (James 5.16) [- James wrote,] 

[James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. ]

[When you seek God sincerely, and in prayer come into the presence of God, my friend, that is when you will know and experience the incredible power of answered prayer.  Don’t just know, but seek your Heavenly Father.] 

C.    When We Knock, Determination Is Exerted [- This is knocking and keeping on knocking.  There may be barriers before us.  Sometimes when you go to someone’s house and knock they don’t answer the door right away.  Maybe they are not home.  Or perhaps they did not hear you when you knocked.  Or they may not feel like answering the door.] 

[Sometimes when we pray Heaven’s door may not open right away.  Whenever Heaven’s door does not open and let you into your Heavenly Father’s presence know that the problem is in you, not God.  The Bible reveals number of hindrances to prayer,] 

1.      Presumptuous Sin  (Zech 7.13; Gen 22.18; 1 Jn 3.22-23; Prov 28.9; Isa 1.15,19-20) [- This is open rebellion against God.  This is to live in sins that you know are against your God.] 

a.      [Negatively - Proverbs 28:9 9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.]  

b.      [Positively - 1 John 3:22-23 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.] 

["We must not attempt to achieve by supplication what can be achieved only by supplication and service" R.G. Lee] 

2.      Precious Sin (Ps 66.18; Isa 59.1-2; 1 Pet 3.12) [– This is to love your sin more than you love your Heavenly Father.] 

a.       Negatively - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Ps 66.18) 

b.      Positively - For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1Pet 3.12). 

3.      Parting Sin (Matt 5.23-24; 6.14-15; 18.22; 1John 3.15) [– A spirit of unforgiveness.] 

[Matthew 5:23-24 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. ] 

[If you are coming to worship God, then you are endeavoring to come into the presence of God.  This is seeking God.  But your Heavenly Father says,  “You cannot pretend to be okay with me if you are not okay with those I love.”  So what do you do?  You forgive them!] 

4.      Pious Sin (1 John 5.21; Ezek 14.3; 1 John 2.15-16;Col 3.5) [– This is Idolatry, or to set up any other thing as God in your life.   This means even you cannot be the God in your life.] 

[Ezekiel 14:3 3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? ]

[In this individualistic America this is one of our greatest problems.  We are in such control of our lives that even when we think we are yielding to God in many cases we are not.]

[There are a couple more hindrances to our prayers, but for the sake of time I must close this message.]

[What is the answer to these hindrances to our prayers.  Jesus says, knock and keep on knocking.  Knock persistently until you finally recognize and confess that which is keeping you from entering your Heavenly Father’s throne room.  Rest assured your Heavenly Father wants you there.  He has told you in the past what is severing between you and him.  Now you must recognize it, confess it, and once you have repented you will find an entrance into Heavens Home.]

[Illustration – Moody’s hard revival – An unforgiving spirit] 

CrossRoads Baptist, May 10th 2009


[1] Chicago Sun-Times

[2] Note that the Textus Receptus (TR) uses kkaken while the Nestle-Aland (NA) uses ἐγκακεῖν.  The strength of the term cowardice is lost in the NA.    Faint -  kkaken (Gk) – from kkakw (Gk) – To turn out badly, cowardl, to prove recreant . . . In N.T. genr. To be fainthearted, to faint, e.g. in view of trial and difficulty . . . In respectof duty, to faint, to be weary, to fail Luke 18.1. Gal 6.9. 2 Thess 8.13. (A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, By Edward Robinson, Published by Harper & Brothers, 1850, Original from the University of California, Digitized Feb 14, 2008, 803 pages)



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