Barry Unwin. Venue: Clive’s Fruit Farm, 21 May 2017
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your 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! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:7-12)
Three men die and are taken by God to the top of a cliff. He says to them, “For you, the last judgement will be different. I’m going to give you one chance, to become anything that you desire. All you’ve got to do is name it, And jump off the cliff.
So the first man runs to the edge of the cliff, shouts “I want to be an eagle.” And jumps and instantly he’s transformed, and soars off into the sunset.
The second man runs to the edge of the cliff, Shouts “I want to be a dragon.” And jumps and instantly he’s transformed, and soars off into the sunset, breathing fire.
Then the third man runs to the edge of the cliff. shouts “I want to be…” Trips over a rock, and shouts “Sugar.”
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find…”
says Jesus, though I’m not sure he had a cliff jump in mind.
Let me go somewhere dangerous, and mix politics and religion. I’ve been reading party manifestoes this week. I’m not going to tell you which way to vote, that’s a matter for your conscience and for prayerful discernment. But what I really enjoy about the manifestoes is the vision they give of a different world. They say, “If only we win, life will be like this…” And one nice thing about the manifestoes this time, Is that there’s quite a difference between them. I like these different visions of how our United Kingdom could be, It makes our choice matter all the more.
So please be prayerfully considering which way you’re going to vote and as you do that, don’t forget that Jesus is after your vote too.
You see, his words about asking, and seeking and knocking, they’re part of the prayer section In the Kingdom of God manifesto. Jesus is saying – choose my Kingdom vision It’s what becomes possible. When we’re prepared to pray these three types of prayer: ASKING, SEEKING and KNOCKING.
Let’s briefly look at each in turn,
1) Asking Prayer
This is the type of prayer most of us know. We sometimes call it intercession. It’s the type of prayer we’re here today to do. We’re asking – we’re requesting as a favour that God bless our farming community. That’s what a Rogation service is all about. And yet the Jesus manifesto goes bigger than just farming.
Ask and it shall be given to you. Is about the whole of life.And about everything in our lives.
But sometimes we’re not great at asking. When you ask someone for something, It’s an admission of weakness, an admission that we aren’t, on our own, enough. And some of us are not good at that.
Here’s a different way to think about it, asking God to give us something, isn’t an admission of weakness, it’s a chance to proclaim God’s greatness.
You see when we ask for something, we’re saying “Lord you are the only one who can fix this.” Which means asking God’s help, is an act of worship.
“Ask and it will be given to you” said Jesus.
“But wait just a minute, Jesus” I can hear a heckler calling….
I did ask, I asked for a new car, and I didn’t get it. What’s going on?”
This brings us to seeking prayer.
You see we can all think of a dozen things we want to ask God for: with a lottery win is just there at number 7 on the list. But God will only give us the things that are good for us, the things that are in line with his will. And seeking prayer is all about seeking God’s will for our lives. So what’s God’s will for our life?
Well simply put, God’s will for us is that we become more and more like Jesus. And when it comes down to it, a lot of the stuff we pray for – No matter how sincerely we want it Isn’t going to help us become more like Jesus. That new car. The new house. The new husband. That’s not God’s plan for us.
So we need to find out what is, and we do that by asking God, and by reading his Word, the Bible. That’s God’s main tool for revealing his will to us.
Christian Friends can help. Church leaders too. But nothing beats prayerfully reading the Bible for guidance.
So seek God’s will in prayer. The last form of prayer is Knocking.
That’s sounds like something an atheist would do. Knocking prayer.
Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Crucial question – which door? It’s the doorway into the presence of God. This is all about experiencing a deeper and deeper Relationship with our loving heavenly Father.
And Jesus says, it’s as simple as knocking. What’s trickier, is the time it takes us to get ready to knock. It’s like a neighbour of mine, I’ve been meaning to pop round for a while now, I know if I knock there’ll be a welcome, but I never quite get round to it. And some of us are like that with getting to know God better. We know we’ve got to do it at some point, but not right now. To busy with the important stuff, Cutting the grass, knitting, sport. We’re like a gardener at Buckingham Palace, who’s so busy pruning the roses, that they miss out on an invitation to tea with the queen.
Nothing matters more than that relationship with the Father. It’s a relationship that begins with God’s incredible love for us, a love so strong that he sacrificed his own son Jesus to rescue us and bring us back into his life. Jesus death on the cross opens up the way to God, that had been closed off by our sin, and as we come into God’s presence, we can know that perfect freedom, that perfect peace that the Bible promises. Or we can go back to pruning the roses.
Knock and the door will be opened to you”
That’s how we come into God’s presence the first time, and it’s how we keep on coming. We keep on asking to come in, and just enjoying being in his presence, so knock! And get to know your Father better!
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find…Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Now that’s a manifesto to really change the world! But like any manifesto we have to act on it.
It’s like the old story of the tightrope artist Blondin. Back in the 19th century he used to perform at the Niagra Falls. He’d walk backwards and forewards over the waterfall, on his tightrope. Then he’d say to the crowd, “Do you believe I can take a wheelbarrow across”
“Yes” they’d shout. So he’d do it.”
Do you believe I could take a sack of coal across?”
“Yes” they’d shout, So he’d put this great heavy sack in the barrow. And off across the waterfall he’d go.
And when he came back he’d say, “Do you believe I could wheel a man across?”
“Yes” they’d shout.
And he’d say, “Right, form a queue.” And no one did.
So I’m gonna’ challenge you, about prayer. Are you going to climb into the spiritual wheelbarrow, and do your ASKING, SEEKING, KNOCKING for real?