Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Disciples Know (15)

Disciples Know to Live Like They Pray
Matthew 7:7-12
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

"Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 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! 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 TNIV
On first glance, it seems like this passage is pretty much about prayer, doesn't it? The lesson we pull out of it regarding prayer is straightforward and sensible. It goes something like this:

Jesus encourages his disciples to ask of God, seek from God and actively knock on heaven's door. He assures us our requests are not in vain because we have a God who hears our requests the way a loving father hears the requests of his own children. God longs to bless us and he is consistent in his love, so we should train ourselves to look forward to his answers to our prayers with trust and expectancy.

But would it surprise you to learn that prayer is not what this passage is all about? This text is not so much about talking to God as it is about living with others. Prayer is just the illustration of what this word is about. This passage is about living lives consistent with the way we pray.

Hear the application again:
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Christians trust their heavenly Father to bless them, do good to them and to give them what they need simply because they believe God cares for his kids. That belief and trust shows in the way Christians ask of their Father in prayer.

But, if that be true, then Jesus says it ought to follow just as clearly ("so" - vs.12) that his disciples live lives which bless, do good and care for the people around them. For you see, disciples live like they pray. They live toward others the way God acts toward them. They walk the talk they give to God. They imitate the God to whom they pray.

Hear the connection one more time:
"Ask and it will be given to you . . . So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you . . ."
And so with that in mind, we need to pray!
Heavenly Father, I've asked many things of you through the years. You've always come through for me and given me what you in your wisdom knew I needed most. Your care has been obvious. And though I don't deserve such love, this is exactly the way I would want you to treat me. So Father, may my life toward others be as your life has been toward me - loving and generous, open and caring, responsive and providing, selfless and giving. May my life not betray what I believe about you when I pray, but may my ways toward others, all others, sing harmony with what I believe about you and say about you in prayer. Prevent me, I pray, from talking to you one way and walking the other way from others. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.