I preach a sermon in two different sermon series. In a sermon series on prayer I preach a sermon called the bases of prayer. In a sermon series called the Pink Elephants of Christianity I preach the same sermon and call it Can you really ask Jesus for anything? In the latter I introduce it by asking how many here think you can ask Jesus for anything and he will do it? Normally 80-90% of the hands go up. I then quote Matt 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you”. And Luke 11:10 “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened”. Then I ask has anyone here lost an immediate family member to a illness of longer than a few days? Again 80-90% of the hands go up. I then say if you didn’t ask God to heal them put your hand down. All the hands stay up. I then tell everyone to look around everyone with their hand up knows you can’t ask God for anything and get it.
Now I could do the pastor dance and say Jesus healed them. They are with him and no longer sick. As true as that is, they asked God to heal their family and God didn’t. We all know they asked for their loved ones to be healed with the unspoken intent of the loved one saying here with them. God didn’t get that mixed up. They asked and he did not do it. The truth will set you free. Let’s look at all the scripture to understand what Jesus said about asking for things.
Jesus always explained himself. On this topics it was sometimes the next sentence. Sometimes it was the sentence before. He has taught us that prayer is based off relationship. If I talked to my wife once a year on our anniversary and told her I love her. And did not talk for the whole year till the next anniversary. Do you think she would believe me? I can answer that she would not. Relationship is the bases for her trust and love for me. Our relationship actually allows us sometimes to say nothing and know what each other are thinking. The same is true with God. Relationship is the bases for talking with God and for asking God for things.
Let’s look at what the scripture tells us. In Matthew 7:9 just after Jesus said “ask and it will be given you” he said ” Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” The first relationship required is to be a child of God. Besides prayer for salvation a father son relationship is required for God to hear your prayer. Lost people have told me that they have prayed when in trouble. I hate to tell them God is not obligated to hear or answer any prayer from a lost person except for salvation.
In Luke 11 right after Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer. He told a story that seem out of place. The story is about a man that has visitors late at night and he had no bread. The disciples understood the situation. In that day people traveled at night to miss the heat. They had no cell phones so they could not let friends know when they were close. In the story the friend in need goes out of his way to ask for help. Some English tribulations make it sound like the friend who was being asked for bread was troubled. The Greek says the friend asking went out of his way to ask this friend. Asking God for something requires a friend relationship. You can’t talk to God once in awhile and expect an answer. You have to have a friend relationship. God loves it when you bypass the normal path and ask him. Ask him before you go the bank or the doctor.
Now the most important relationship. In Luke 17 right after Jesus said you can tell the Mulberry tree to be uprooted and cast into the sea and it will happen. He told us a story again that seems out of place about servants and masters. Jesus asked the disciples when the servants come in out of the field do the servants and master sit down to dine? The disciples knew the answer was no. The servants clean up, prepare the masters meal and serve him. When he finishes then they eat. With this story Jesus is explaining the servant master relationship. There are servant decisions and there are master decisions. We must understand this when we pray. We are the servants and he is the master. He makes some decisions that we have no input into. It is not because he don’t love us it is because we don’t know what is best. There were reasons my parents died when they did even though I asked for them to live.
This master servant relationship will build till the servant knows the masters will. I can’t tell you how many times I have understood the masters will and it helped me pray the right way for a given situation. When the master has decided a sickness is leading to death there are still many things that can be prayed for. Peace of mind, loss of pain, God to be glorified, the sickness to lead to witnessing are just a few things you CAN ask God for and he WILL do them. Understanding the master servant relationship will defeat worry, fear and anger. And will cause worship.
So if we are in the right relationships with God we can ask anything and he will do it. We must be a son. We must be a friend. And we must be a faithful servant who understands the difference in servant decisions and master decisions.