“Our low spiritual ebb is directly traceable to the flickering feebleness of our prayers”
“Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”
How do you know God has invaded your soul? What is it in you that confirms that God has been present? Jesus is wrapping up His lengthy sermon with two reminders that show us God is present in our life. Last week we saw that Jesus challenged the our twin errors of speaking in judgment and being discriminate in our speech. There are times that we need to discriminate and speak with grace and wisdom, and other times we are called to keep our mouths shut, because what we say may be misconstrued and do more damage to the gospel than help it.
Big Picture: Today’s passage looks at Prayer as Persistence in asking God to help you Grow in your understanding of Life in His Kingdom!
In our passage today Jesus points out Two Signs That God’s Kingdom is Breaking Through in our lives.
From the Head…
Jesus is getting back to the issue of prayer. This is one of the more misunderstood passages, and there have been many potentially damaging teachings that have arisen from passages like this. Matthew 6:5-15 looked at prayer and gave us the base (“Scaffolding”) of what “Kingdom Prayer” looks like. Prayer is God Centered, and it’s Kingdom Centered, not “People” centered.
Jesus’ Sermon has so far shown us what the Kingdom “Constitution” looks like. Matthew 5:3-16 is the Preamble, 5:17-7:12 is the Main Body showing us the Amendments and Kingdom Rules, and 7:13-27 is the Conclusion with Warnings and Consequences. In God’s new constitution, we are called to be “Salt and Light” as witnesses to God’s Glory (Matthew 5:16), and “Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
- Clarified Kingdom Life Covenant Rules on Subjects such as:
- Loving Enemies, etc…
- Challenged Religious Hypocrisy on subjects such as
- Judging Others
When we realize what Kingdom Living looks like, we realize we are inadequate and in need of God’s Grace on a Daily Basis. Therefore we don’t judge others since we know that we too need God.
Prayer Is A Sign You Understand Your Condition and God’s Grace (Matthew 7:7-11)
It’s important here that we connect this passage with context so we don’t make it say what we want it to say. We need to make sure we don’t make this passage a Junk Draw for all of your requests. We’ve already seen that Prayer needs to be connected to God’s Kingdom Mission (Matthew 6). Since That is true we are called to “Ask” God for the ability to live the life He has called us to live (2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:16-23; Philippians 4:19). Much of our problem with prayer is when we do pray, we pray about ourselves and we often ask with selfish motives (James 4:3). When we recognize our need for for God, and we ask God for help, we recognize we need Him. It Goes Back to Matthew 5:3 and our realization that we are truly “Poor in spirit.” This Promise is connected to God’s desire to be our teacher, and when we realize our poverty of knowledge and understanding, we will turn to the one who knows all. Generally our Lack of Prayer Shows either our lack of trust and thus anxiety, or our misunderstanding of our needs and thus trust our riches and abilities.
Doing Unto Others Is A Sign That the Kingdom of God Has Invaded Your Soul (Matthew 7:12)
Verse 12 signals the end of Main Body. It forms a bracket that begins in 5:17. In a sense it’s a wrap, or summary verse, in another sense it fits our context, and continues the thought of Jesus from 7:1. Kingdom living is Pro-Active. We are called in God’s Kingdom to find ways to bless others. The church (God’s People) is a “Glimpse” of God’s final kingdom. His kingdom is a place where people love one another, and look for ways to bless others. The church is called to do that. It’s an extension of Jesus’ ministry of sacrifice for others. Whereas the “Golden Rule” is found in practically every religion, Jesus employs the Positive vs. Negative version, which means it is pro-active. Many of the other versions of this teaching exhorts people to not do something negative since you don’t want that negative thing done to you, but Jesus actually calls His church to go out and “Do unto others that which you would want them to do to you.” This includes action, versus inaction. We are called to be intentional in how we bless the community we are worshiping in.
…to the Heart
What is at the root of your lack of prayer? Why is it sometime hard to rely on God? Hebrews 5:7-9 Jesus is our example of prayer, searching for wisdom to live the life God has called us to live. He empowers us, and gives us the ability to live the life He has called us to live. We need to go to Him for our power and sustenance. The life we are called to live is impossible without Him. We need the Holy Spirit, and we need to rely on Jesus for the life we are called to live out in our communities. Is it possible that you don’t pray because you haven’t tried anything that you need God for? Is it possible you don’t extend yourself to others, because your not aware of God’s kingdom?
Questions to Ponder
1. Looking back on Jesus’ sermon, what was the hardest for you to hear and why?
2. In what way(s) does prayer show our need to rely on God?
3. Is your Prayer Life Kingdom oriented or Self oriented?
4. In what way does God answer our prayers?