January’s Thread #2: Received Not?

James 4:3
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Matthew 21:22
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Now these verses should never be taken as an individual comment.  Please be wise and read the whole grouping of verses with them.  The words of our Lord are never to be picked and selected. They are paragraphs to be read together.  Yes, in Mathew 7:7, we read to ask, and it shall be given”, but how smart is it to just grab a few words out of a verse or chapter, or even the whole text?  That is like saying a cup of flour makes a cake.  It does not make a cake unless you add the leavening, a liquid and kneading.  You even need a sweetener to make it a cake.  [We need to back up and read Chapter 6 with this verse.]

I have heard people say they no longer believe in prayer.  And my little snippety-self  just wants to come back with a bit of truth.  Then when you start digging into their requests you find that several things could be a ‘reason’ for not thinking their prayer had been answered.

  • Reason #1   It was not a prayer, but a demand to God.
  • Reason #2   It was not something that would be holy.
  • Reason #3   Maybe the timing was not right for the individual.
  • Reason #4   The faith of the requester was never strong.  They had doubts that the prayer should have been answered.
  • Reason #5   There was no guidance asked for with the request.
  • Reason #6   The prayer was not coming from someone who has Christ in their life.
  • Reason #7   They forget that an unanswered prayer could be for their best interest.  I.e.  Safety, or something better is in store.

So this snippety, holier-than-thou, person [something I call myself ]  just listens to those lamenting about having lost faith in prayers.  I pray for the Lord to ease them and that I have the right words to share with them.  One thing I have learned to never do is – to never share right at that instant.  They are upset when they make comments like that, and will be ready to be mean if you continue the subject.  The best way is to wait for a few days and bring the subject up; but do it in a form that says something about you.  You could breach the subject in a way that says you were thinking about a prayer that you prayed.  Go into what ideas (keep it personal)  you had about why a prayer seemed to not have been answered.  Just some short, simple statement.  If they are ready to discuss that, then spend a few more minutes covering yourself, not them.  What better way to share then to make yourself an example?  By using yourself as an example you are opening up the idea of being a child of God, and making it much more appealing.

If, in a few days, you feel the need to share more with them, about when the Lord said what he did concerning “ ask for you shall receive,”  explain the full text.  There are several instances that these word-groupings show up.  Pull them out and read them all together.  Matthew, Luke and James have the texts in them.  Learn why they were used each time, and what else the Lord was talking about.  That grouping of words are not like one of the Ten Commandments, but are guidelines to following the Lord.  They are encouragements to pray.  Also, they were given when talking about being a Child of God.  They are not about greed for physical things.  They are about having faith in God’s care for you.  They are about knowledge and faith.

Matthew 7:11
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Another grouping of these words are found in Luke 11 starting at verse 5.  They come directly after the question or request to be taught how to pray.

Luke 11:1
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 
2   And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3   Give us day by day our daily bread.
4   And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 
5   And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend lend me three loaves; …
8   I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9   And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.

These verses continue and give more insight into what our Lord was saying.  First, these verses start with a question or request from the disciples to learn how to pray as the Lord was doing. They do not come about because the disciples were asking how to get things from the Lord.  They were asking how to talk with God.  Jesus gave them an answer in the form of a sample prayer.  In no place in that sample prayer does the Lord ask for some ‘thing’.  Then Jesus continues with a parable.  He asks them if they went to a friend and asked for something would that friend necessarily give it to them?  No, not necessarily.  Then Jesus finishes with another parable of the good and evil fathers.

If Jesus is always answering in parables and not direct words, then why do we feel the need to pick out words and expect them to be taken verbatim?  Now, I am not saying that these were not the true words, nor that I think they are not divine; but that we should not just pick several words and hold up just those words as more than they are.  I call that “taking out of context”!  His words are a recipe for living.

Think about it — how many times do we toss aside manuals when we are trying to put bookshelves together.  We think, “we got this,” we don’t need a manual to tell us how to put our life together.  That is exactly what we do with the Bible.  We don’t use it as a manual until we get mad about something, and then we scream “but it says that Jesus said this  “”. ”

I don’t know how many manuals you have picked up, but there are usually a few pages dedicated to ‘warnings’.  And then there are pages of “try this if there seems to be a problem.”  So be honest and think about how you read those manuals.  Do you read them first?  Front to Back?  Do you just plow on and wait until something goes wrong before you crack that booklet?  Do you skip over all the information and look up how to turn, say your new phone, on?  Are you the type that has someone grab the car manual out of the glove compartment and look up what that lit up sign means, while you continue to fly down the highway?

The type of manual reader you are might just give you insights into the type of Child of God you are.  I know that might sound far-fetched and silly, but take a few moments to think about it.  Me, I have a tendency to be a little of all.  Example: if I have put something together, similar to what I am now trying to put together, I just plow on.  But you buy me something that can hurt me, you bet I read that little booklet.  Sometimes I will skim over a manual  and then go over it in detail later.

My prayer is that with each petition we send to the Lord, we ask for guidance with the petition.  That we are given the peace that a “no response” is just as important as getting our petition.  I pray that we never pray a petition for something that would harm us or someone else.  

John 11:7
  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
 John 14
13   And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14   If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15   If ye love me, keep my commandments.

 

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