- Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV) 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, 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!
In these words Jesus continues to confirm what He had said of the certainty of an answer to prayer. To remove all doubt, and show us on what sure ground His promise rests, He appeals to what everyone has seen and experienced here on earth. We are all children, and know what we expected of our fathers. In the best light we understand that one of the most natural things there can be is for a father to hear his child. And the Lord asks us to look up from earthly parents, of whom the best are but evil, and to calculate HOW MUCH MORE the heavenly Father will give good gifts to them that ask Him. Jesus lead us up to see that as much greater as God is than sinful man, so much greater our assurance ought to be that He will, more than any earthly father, grant our childlike petitions.
Jesus wants to remind us that the prayer of a child owes its influence entirely to the relation in which he stands to the parent. The prayer can exert that influence only when the child is really living in right relationship, in the home, in the love, in the service, of the Father. The power of the promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you,’ lies in the loving relationship between us as children and the Father in heaven; when we live and walk in that relationship, the prayer of faith and its answer will be the natural result. And so the lesson we have today is this: Live as a child of God, then you will be able to pray as a child, and as a child you will most assuredly be heard.
And what is the true child-life?
Living in close relationship with the Father. Finding pleasure in His presence and in obedience to His will.
Scripture says, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God:’
We quickly discover that Father-like giving is the Divine response to childlike living.
Some of you are getting discouraged because we cant live up to that standard.
The difficulty is removed if we think a little deeper about this: a child is weak; there is a great difference among children in age and gift. The Lord does not demand of us a perfect fulfilment of the law; only the childlike and whole-hearted surrender to live as a child with Him in obedience and truth. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The Father must have the whole heart. When this is given, and He sees the child with honest purpose and steady will seeking in everything to be and live as a child, then our prayer will count with Him as the prayer of a child.
The secret of effectual prayer is to have the heart filled with the Father-love of God. It is not enough for us to know that God is a Father: He would have us take time to come under the full impression of what that name implies. We must take the best earthly father we know; we must think of the tenderness and love with which he regards the request of his child, the love and joy with which he grants every reasonable desire; we must then, as we think in adoring worship of the infinite Love and Fatherliness of God, consider with how much more tenderness and joy He sees us come to Him, and gives us what we ask for in the right heart and spirit. And then, when we see how much this Divine math is beyond our comprehension, and feel how impossible it is for us to capture God’s readiness to hear us, then He calls us to share that love both near and far so that all can experience that kind of love.
The child who only wants to know the love of the father when he has something to ask, will be disappointed. But he who lets God be Father always and in everything, who would desire to live his whole life in the Father’s presence and love, who allows God in all the greatness of His love to be a Father to him; oh, he will experience just how much more the Father loves us!