Intro: What makes people effective with work or any given task? I’m sure there are many things that are important and must work together, but an essential element must be having a positive attitude that radiates confidence and commitment. If we are going to be effective, we must begin with ourselves—be a self-starter with a positive “I can do it as I focus my faith on Jesus” attitude. Then, we must follow-through in order to please God!
Some background for our passage today from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been teaching about being judgmental—before pointing out the speck in our neighbor’s eye, first we need to attend to the log in our own eye, because only then can we see properly to effectively help others (Mat 7:3-5). The desire to help is essential, but the willingness to first invite Jesus to cleanse and direct our hearts and way is what makes the help we give truly effective. After sharing about our personal need for his help to make us effective disciples, Jesus shifts his teaching to effective prayer.
What makes people effective with prayer? Clearly, we see the need for confident faith, a positive attitude, a focus on God’s plan, and a commitment to follow-through when we want answers. Through prayer we search for God and ask for his purpose to be manifest in our hearts and as we reach out to help others. Jesus teaches us there are “intensities of effort,” and he shares these as asking, seeking, and knocking.
We persist in asking for Father God’s will with confidence because we know he loves and cares for the souls of all his children; asking keeps us humble. Seeking diligently is key, because God has promised, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13). And, when we keep knocking or persevering for the door to open and release grace to fulfill God’s purpose, we will be rewarded. God is good and will never withhold good things from us. However, he wants us focused on what is important to him and trust in his timing, because then we bring glory to his name.
Matthew 7:7-11 NLT Effective Prayer
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Prayer: Lord, we want to be effective for the work of your Kingdom and we understand we do so by inviting you to first bring the necessary changes in our hearts and attitudes. Please work to cleanse us and set us free from the things that do not honor you. By asking, seeking, and knocking, we want to position ourselves to receive your help in touching lives for the Kingdom. We are going to persevere in prayer and remain confident that you will bring the good gifts we need at the appointed time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.