Reading Time: 8 Minutes
A man was with his two sons at the Texas State Fair. They were waiting in one of those thirty-minute lines for a one-minute ride that everyone so loves. The man was a little distracted, while waiting for the people in front of him to creep forward an inch or two at a time.
His boys grabbed one of his hands and said almost in unison, “Dad, we have a friend and he doesn’t have a ticket. Can you let him ride with us?”
The man asked his boys, “Is this one of your friends from school?”
“No,” said the boys. “We met him right here, standing in line.”
I expect you know the rest of the story. The father gave the “new” friend a ticket and a ride, because the two sons asked on his behalf.
Jesus never went to the Texas State Fair, but he knew the principle of asking better than any earthly dad.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.7-11).
Jesus and Asking
A psychologist once described one of his patients like this. He said, “We all are playing baseball. My patient has on a baseball uniform and he is at the ball diamond. He talks baseball talk, but but in his mind, he believes we are playing football. He may try to tackle a runner or throw a block on the short-stop to help advance a team member.”
You and I are living in God’s kingdom. If I were to attempt to write rules for his kingdom, I would be as strange and dangerous as the psychologist’s patient.
Good news for all of us! God hasn’t given me any authority to write a rule book for his kingdom. The best news is that Jesus did write the rule book and he told us that he wants us to be like the two boys at the Texas State Fair.
He wants us to persist in asking, searching, and knocking as we meet with God in prayer. We live in God’s kingdom, and we are free to ask for the things we need.
Asking – The Basic Rule of Prayer
The basic rule of prayer is to ask. James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4.2).
Jesus wanted us to appreciate this rule of prayer to such an extent that he told a story similar to the one at the Texas State Fair. Then he exclaimed, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.11).
Children are brazen and confident in their asking. When our children were young, I used to tell them that I should get them a car lot. They were so persistent, insistent and persuasive in their asking that I thought they would surely be able to sell cars.
It is the nature of children to ask. Jesus not only gives us permission to ask, he encourages us to ask.
Children don’t always get what they ask for, but that doesn’t stop them from asking. That is the spirit that Jesus encourages in the Sermon on the Mount.
Again, the first rule of prayer is to ask. Let’s enjoy this privilege of God’s children, as much as our children have the ability to ask things from us.
Asking About Your Assignment
I have been reading a book on prayer by Dr. Henry Blackaby. His writings have influenced my thinking and living for quite some time. He is a personal friend of Mark and Linda Whitworth. They have some very inspiring stories about their friendship with Henry Blackaby.
One of the most important things Dr. Blackaby has impressed on me is the idea that we are appointed for his purposes.
If you ask me what church you should join, I will tell you to speak to God until he appoints you to that church. I learned this valuable concept from Dr. Blackaby.
I often tell people this about belonging to a church. When things are good in the church, you can tell God how happy you are that he appointed you there. When things are difficult, don’t leave the church. Rather, ask God to show you what he has appointed you to do in that place.
I am going to write in more detail about Dr. Blackaby’s ideas on prayer at a later date. For now, consider this. Blackaby recommends that you begin your daily prayer time by asking God to show you the appointment in life that he has for you for the day.
God has a plan and a purpose that only you can fulfill. He wants to involve us in his work. God’s kingdom is the effective reach of his power, and he wants us to be an extension of what he is doing. When we know our assignment for the day, we are better able to cooperate with him in his purposes.
Our loving heavenly Father will give us an answer about his appointment for us. Even better, he will give us the power to fulfill the appointment he has given us.
Try beginning your prayer time by asking God to reveal his daily assignment for you. It may take some practice, but I think it will be quite valuable for you to start your day with this kind of asking.
The Giver of Good Gifts
It should not surprise us that James knew the rules of asking. His older brother, Jesus, told the story of our heavenly Father’s desire to give to his children.
James wrote, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1.16-17).
Our Giver of every good and perfect gift wants to respond to our asking, searching, and knocking. There is nothing that we can not take to him in prayer.
Don’t Leave Others Out
As we ask, search and knock we can include other people in our prayers. Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7.12).
Who among us is not appreciative of prayers that other people pray on our behalf?
During last Sunday’s worship service with Maywood Baptist Church and Kayros Church, four of the members of Kayros Church walked the outside of our parking lot praying for the service and all of the people who were present. They were giving to us a gift that they would be pleased to receive themselves. If you were present, you know what a powerful and uplifting service it was.
One day, a friend of mine called me and asked, “What’s going on in your life?” God has awakened him in the middle of the night to pray for me. What a gift! My friend missed out on sleep to ask God to bless me.
Charles Finney, a powerful revivalist from another century, had two men who prayed fervently for his meetings. Finney, like many other greatly used servants of the Lord, knew the value of their prayers.
There are many ways we can treat other people the way we would like to be treated. However, one of the greatest ways to treat them in an excellent fashion is to pray for them.
Please consider using Jesus’ rules of asking, searching and knocking for the benefit of other people. Please pray for the leaders of the church. Pray for persons who are in recovery. Pray for your children to know the assignment in life that God has for them. Please pray for leaders in all levels of government.
Dear Jesus, thank you for teaching us to ask, search and knock. Thank you for promises to answer our prayers. Please help us to learn to pray about the assignment you have given us. Please help us to pray for other people.