I have been meditating a lot on Matthew 7:7-11:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
The part about the father/son relationship being an influence in the answer to prayer has been on my mind the most. Seeing that I have five children, I think I can relate to this better than I used to. I also have considered my own relationship to my dad, which I consider to be a better relationship than most men I have encountered.
All that being said, I think that the level of relationship that we have with God affects my prayers and God’s answer to them. That may seem a very obvious observation, but one often overlooked in the many times I ask God why He has not yet answered me or has denied me the things I have prayed for. I believe that the more I’m living as His child should, the more likely He is to grant me my petitions. I can remember times in my life that my dad and I were not on the best of terms, and I asked him for $200 to make my car insurance payment and his answer was a firm, “No.” Some would say that was cruel, others would say that is what I deserved. At that time, it is very likely that I blew my money on movies, dinners, parties, or whatever distraction came to mind that week. My dad, looking at this, knew that I would not learn to be responsible (as I was obviously proving myself otherwise) with my money if he just bailed me out every time (hmm sounds like the opposite of what the government is doing). Our relationship was also pretty distant then, so when I came to ask for the money, it was more than likely the only time my dad had seen me that
Let’s relate this to the prayers of a believer not walking whole heartedly with God. We do whatever we want, spending our time and resources on whatever pleasures that we desire and at the end of the month we need something. We then find ourselves crying out to God, “I need you to come through for me on this matter. I am sick and in need of your help to make this presentation, I have that mortgage payment coming up and my hours just got cut. Bless me and my family, amen.” God then looks at you and says, “Chris, it’s good to hear from you, it’s the first time in over a week that you have wanted to talk to me. I want to help you, truly I wish that I could, but you have not allowed me to. I have tried to provide for you, in fact, I had a promotion in line for you at work. You lost you cool in a meeting last week, so the boss picked Pete instead. If you were spending more time with me, I could have helped you, if you would have just asked for My peace. It’s hard for Me to give you more money this week because you are not faithful with what I have already given you. If you would just spend more time, and seek Me and My kingdom, I will provide all these things without your asking. I hope to hear from you again soon! I love you!”
Wow does that one get me.
There was another time a few years later when I needed to get my car fixed. My relationship with my dad was much better; I was seeing my parents on a somewhat regular basis and actually spending time with them. My dad looked at me and said, take it to the dealer, I’ll pay for it. I didn’t ask him to pay for it, I just mentioned my need and it was taken care of. In fact, my dad said he knew I was having car trouble and was just waiting for me to mention it to him. The bill ended up being about $1,600. What a difference this was from the previous experience.
What’s the difference? Instead of living my life rejecting my dad and refusing to help him around the house, living like a stranger would, I started to be a son. Loving him, making time to talk with him and enjoying it. We created a bond together, the father/son bond. It is this way with God. When we want to spend time with Him and enjoy that time together our relationship grows to the point where He wants to do these things for us. He wants to bail us out, and like my dad, he knows the need and is just waiting for us to tell Him we need Him so that He can bless us more than we could hope for. Abundantly!
If we want God to treat us like His children, and bless us like His children should be blessed, then we have to live like we are His. For us to be His children, He has to be our dad.
“…fatherlike giving is the divine response to childlike living.” – Andrew Murray