The Priority Of Prayer

PanicOrPrayer

Matthew 7:7-12 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

In Matthew chapter 6 the Lord gave us as His disciples a model of prayer. He said:

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Jesus said after THIS MANNER. Our prayers should all mimic the pattern that Jesus gave us for prayer. We studied this model a few weeks ago, and learned the prayer is

to the Father (for His glory)
in the Name of the Son
in the power of God the Holy Spirit

Jesus gave us a PATTERN of prayer. Then He takes an intermission while He discusses how we are to avoid human judgments. We saw this last Sunday night.

I find it ironic that Jesus teaches against using human judgments … then we immediately begin to use human judgment in interpreting tonight’s Bible verses.

I have heard this text preached – and have preached it myself – as a simple message on each one of us getting what we want. I have heard it said:

God loves you! (and this is true, for He does love you). He wants you to ask Him for things. So “ask”, and “seek” and if the door seems closed, “knock”. Why? Because Jesus has promised that:

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

I have heard this verse abused by prosperity preachers. I myself have abused this verse. Why? Because I missed one little important word in this text. You probably missed it too.

It”

Do you see “it”?

What Is Your “It”?

We take that word “it” and put something that we want in it’s spot. I want this. I want that. I think we do a disservice to the text when we make it about meeting our needs.

We need to look at our context!

There’s another small word we need to look at. It is the word “seek”. Jesus said “SEEK”, and you shall find {it}. The word translated “SEEK” is the Greek ζητέω zētéō, (pronounced dzay-teh’-o) which means “to crave or desire a thing so much that you must have it, to be absorbed with desire for it so that you strive for it”. The same word was used of that old politician King Herod, who would kill all the babies in Bethlehem to destroy the Messiah. The Angel of the Lord told Joseph:

Matthew 2:13 … Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek {zētéō, (pronounced dzay-teh’-o)} the young child to destroy him.

Herod’s desire consumed him so much that he cared nothing for decency. He had to destroy Jesus! Later on in Christ’s ministry the chief priests, elders, and the Jewish Council {Sanhedrin} were so incensed by Jesus that the Bible says:

Matthew 26:59 … they sought {zētéō, (pronounced dzay-teh’-o)} false witness against Jesus, to put him to death

When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to finish the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial they found the Tomb empty. The Angel of the Lord appeared and told the ladies:

Matthew 28:5-6 … Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek {zētéō, (pronounced dzay-teh’-o)} Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said….

Zētéō is not a casual looking for something. It is a compulsion, a desire that must be filled.

What does Jesus want us to zētéō”? You find the same word in the previous chapter, where our Lord said:

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek (zētéō) ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Our “seeking” should be driven toward the Kingdom of God. If you “seek {zētéō} first the Kingdom of God AND His righteousness THEN all these other things (what you need to eat, drink, and wear) will be added to you.

seek {zētéō, (pronounced dzay-teh’-o)} ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and
all these things shall be added unto you.

Jesus said the Gentiles or the lost unbelievers URGENTLY SEEK {ἐπιζητέω epizētéō, (pronounced ep-eed-zay-teh’-o)} or are consumed with their need to get “stuff”. God’s people are to be different. Our first and foremost concern must be the Kingdom of God AND His righteousness.

Believers, we are to magnify God. We are to be a people who make our God’s throne a reality in our lives, and in the lives of others. We need to be imitators of God. If we love God, then God promises …

All these things shall be added unto you”

Our God is to be first in our lives. As a Church, the glory of our God and His Gospel are to be our priority.

It Is Our Duty To Bring Glory To God

God will always seek His glory. When our Lord Jesus later prepared for the Cross, He prayed:

John 12:27-30 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

If Jesus were like us He would have prayed that He never had to go to the Cross. He would have been fixated on that. Yet Jesus is not like us. Jesus prayed that – regardless as to what occurred – that God would be glorified. The Father said – in essence – “This is a prayer I will always answer. I WILL glorify My Name!”

God will glorify His name. God will prevail. When we as believers put first things first, God will bless us and protect us as His Kingdom grows. God loves to answer the prayers that expand His Kingdom and righteousness. Didn’t Jesus teach us to pray:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE,
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
!

Our prayers should not be first about ourselves, but about glory to God. Our prayers should ASK that His Kingdom come. We should SEEK God’s Kingdom in our lives and in the lives of others. When the door seems closed, we should KNOCK. God honors these prayers. God must be glorified!

One the wisest men who ever lived was Solomon. Solomon said at the end of his book of Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

God calls His people to fear – that is, respect Him and keep His commandments. This is an Old Testament way of saying “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Live in such a way that you honor God. When you live to honor God, God gives you a blessed life.

How did Solomon get to be the wisest and richest man who ever lived? He put the Kingdom of God FIRST, and sought to honor God in all that he did. Read with me:

2 Chronicles 1:1 … Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.

Now why did God magnify Solomon exceedingly?

Because Solomon lived for the God Who saved him. Solomon did not just stockpile riches. He used his riches to glorify God. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 1:6 And Solomon went up thither to the brazen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it.

This is a lot of wealth that Solomon disposed of. A burnt offering couldn’t be eaten. It was totally destroyed. And a THOUSAND burnt offerings would take a great deal of time to offer. Solomon invested both his riches and his time in honoring the Lord Who saved him.

When your heart is on God and His righteousness, God’s heart is on YOU! We read further …

2 Chronicles 1:7 … In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.

God gave Solomon an open door. “Ask whatever you will, Solomon”. Solomon could have asked for food, drink, and stuff. He could have asked for all the gold in the world, and I’m sure God would have given it to him. But here’s the thing: God looks at our hearts. He saw Solomon’s heart before He offered to give Solomon anything he wanted. In response Solomon prayed the perfect prayer:

2 Chronicles 1:8-10 … And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. 9 Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?

Solomon’s prayer was not to fill his vaults with gold. His prayer was not that his kingdom be extended. Solomon honored God by thanking Him for what he had been given. Solomon didn’t ask for stuff. Solomon didn’t ask for power. Solomon didn’t ask for glory. Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge so that he could effectively take care of the stewardship that God had given him. Solomon’s aim was to glorify the God Who saved him.

How did God answer Solomon’s prayer? Read it:

2 Chronicles 1:11-12 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honor, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12 Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

God said “You ASKED for that which honored Me, you SOUGHT My glory and Kingdom, you KNOCKED at the door not for yourself but for Me. Because you have done so, I will give you wisdom and knowledge – and along with this riches, wealth, and honor!” Beloved, when we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness like Solomon did, then we need not worry about the other things. They all come as a package!

The Priority Of Prayer Is Not “Stuff” But God

I have a number of people ask me about the nation’s current crisis, the Coronavirus. People are in a panic over this – what the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are calling a pandemic. The Governor of Kentucky called for churches in his state to cancel services this weekend. As I was checking out at the Dollar Store yesterday the lady in front of me refused to touch the card reader. She told the cashier – and everyone in the line – what her four digit pin number was, which is, I think, foolish. The cashier touched her purchases with her hands as she put them in a shopping bag.

Is no one thinking?

I am told that people are buying up all the toilet paper they can get. Why people are stockpiling toilet paper is beyond me. Disneyland has shut down. Schools are shutting down. Everyone is in a panic.

Christian, you should not be in a panic. What does Jesus require that we do? PRAY. I visited my Doctor this past Friday, and at the end of my appointment (a six month checkup) I asked my doctor if I could pray with him. He said yes, and I did. Before I left his office we embraced as brothers. God will take care of us!

Christian, are you PRAYING or are you PANICKING with the darkness. Let us pray. Let us seek God’s Kingdom. Remember His promise:

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

The priority of prayer is God. We look up to God. We trust God. God looks after His children. God is greater than the Coronavirus. God is greater than anything. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 33:6-11 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. 10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

It is never God’s intention to hurt His children. As this pandemic sweeps the nation the false security and bravado of the rejectors of Christ is being shredded. In the midst of this even the Church is being purged. God brings to nothing the counsel of the unbeliever. The Prophet said of God:

Job 42:2 I know that Thou {O Lord} canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

God’s purposes and His Kingdom will come. Beloved, we live in a fallen world. When Adam sinned he brought everything under the weight of sin. There is coming a day when creation shall be delivered. It is a time – the Millennial Reign of Christ – when the Bible says that:

Isaiah 11:6-9 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

When Christ’s Kingdom encompasses the earth “the creatures shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-23). That shall be a glorious time. Why? Because the earth shall be FULL of the knowledge of the LORD. Christ will reign. God’s Kingdom will be a priority. That is not the case now. Many local Churches have compromised with the darkness. Many local Church follow the panic of the people rather than give glory and dominion to God our Savior.

When light becomes darkness, the darkness increases, and confusion reigns. Let us who are of the Day – born of the Spirit – adopted into the Family of God – be the Light that God has called us to be. ASK for His Kingdom. SEEK, desire his Kingdom. KNOCK on every door until His Kingdom comes.

Have you, dear friends, considered that this Coronavirus panic is a perfect opportunity for us who are of the Day to bring others into the Kingdom of God? Let us remember that our God is always good. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:9-11 … what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

God wishes to give us the best life NOW. He will do so when we trust Him and are faithful to live in Him. And we are to continue to remember that we must live under the family code of love. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Let us not be like the lost, grabbing, hoarding, acting foolishly. Let us live as Christ calls us to live. Let us glorify our God, and be the Light of Christ to all around us. John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist writes:

{In} Luke 13:1–5 … Pilate had slaughtered worshipers in the temple. And the tower in Siloam had collapsed and killed eighteen bystanders. And the crowds want to know from Jesus, just like I’ve been asked, “Okay, make sense of this, Jesus. Tell us what you think about these natural disasters and this cruelty. These people were just standing there, and now they’re dead.”

Here’s Jesus’s answer in Luke 13:4–5: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent [he shifts from them to you], you will all likewise perish.”

Now, that’s the message of Jesus to the world at this moment in history, under the coronavirus — a message to every single human being. … every person who hears about this, is receiving a thunderclap message of God, saying, “Repent.” … Repent and seek God’s mercy to bring your lives — our lives — into alignment with his infinite worth.

Let us as Christ’s Church not fail the test before us. Our nation depends on the Light of every follower of Christ! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen, and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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