Have you ever seen a saddle on a sheep!? No, of course not! Sheep are not meant to carry burdens... which means you and I are not, either. So, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, God gives us the ability to cast our burdens on Him! He already carried the saddle through the cross, to the grave, and then to Heaven!!! Rejoice always in His mercy and love!

Philippians 4:6 ESV - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

I had sought to find God's will before asking Him for anything...and that is just not what He intended. Prayer is a conversation with God. But he gives us the ability to also Supplicate, which can amount to begging! He truly wants us to be un-burdened.

James 5:16 ESV - "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV - "Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

James 5:13 ESV - "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise."

Mark 11:24 ESV - Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

1 John 3:22 ESV - "And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him."

Whatever we ask: People who walk in the obedience and love John speaks of will also experience answered prayer. This is not because their love and obedience earned them what they ask, but their love and obedience comes from fellowship – the key to answered prayer. John seems to be quoting Jesus’ idea from John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Because we keep His commandments: Keeping God’s commandments is important to answered prayer.

  • The key to prayer is being in such close fellowship with God that we ask for the things that are on His heart; we take up His agenda with our requests and intercession.

  • The spirit of true prayer is Thy will be done, not My will be done – we turn to prayer to call into action what God desires; even knowing that some of the things God desires will directly and personally benefit us.

But we should make a distinction with the cry of the heart seeking mercy from God in Jesus. For the sinner who comes to Jesus seeking mercy, the only requirement is sincerity of heart.

And do those things that are pleasing in His sight: The person who is in fellowship with God will want to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. We should have hearts that just want to please the Lord in everything that we do.

  • It is sobering to look at our lives and see how much we do to please ourselves and how much we do to please the Lord. We shouldn’t think that the two are opposites; God is glorified when we enjoy His goodness and His good things. Yet, the godly life will have special focus on just pleasing God, even if it doesn’t particularly please us at the moment.

1 John 3:23-24 ESV - And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

And this is His commandment: The idea of keeping His commandments in the previous verse led John to speak specifically about what His commandment is. Simply, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.

  • Here, John does not refer to these two aspects of obedience as two commandments, but as one commandment. Grammatically, he may not be formally correct. But spiritually, he is right on. These two are one. When Jesus spoke of the greatest commandment: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, He added another saying: “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). There are two commandments, but they are clearly like one another.

We should believe on the name of His Son: Again, John seems to have quoted Jesus’ idea from John 6:29: This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. The first commandment and the greatest work we can do, is to believe on Jesus.

  • This is not simply believing that Jesus is, or even believing that He did certain things such as die on a cross. To believe on the name of Jesus means to put your belief on Jesus in the sense of trusting in Him, relying on Him, and clinging to Jesus. It isn’t about intellectual knowledge or understanding, it is about trust.

And love one another: The second commandment is also a quoting of Jesus’ idea from John 15:12: This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. The love of the brethren is not an option for some Christians; it is a commandment for all.

Abides in Him: Those who abide in Jesus know they are abiding in Jesus, because of the presence and assurance of the Holy Spirit. John again is giving the same idea as Romans 8:16 (The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God).

  • Romans 8:9 tells us that anyone who belongs to Jesus has the Spirit in him; that indwelling Holy Spirit gives us assurance.

  • The one who believes but does not keep God’s commandments does not have the ground of confidence that he abides in Jesus. As well, he does not truly have the assurance of the Holy Spirit’s presence in his life.

  • To know if you really have this assurance can take time, experience and possibly some spiritual discernment, and that is what John deals with in the very next verse. But God has already given us another basis for assurance: seeing if we love one another (1 John 3:19).

Romans 11:1-36 - this is too long to put here, so please click on the link to go there!

If Israel is God's chosen people and they have rejected faith in Christ as the way of salvation, what will happen to them?

What does this text say about the future of the Israelites and their salvation? There is still a remnant of Israel who believed on Jesus!

We see here the consistency of God, yet His mercy, also. Note that God still had an elect from Israel, even in their disobedience. So, He clearly sees us much differently than we see each other or ourselves.

Paul also makes a clear point about any attempt to mix salvation by grace with salvation based on works. In short, they are totally incompatible. If something is truly by "grace," it cannot be in any way based on works, and vice versa (Romans 11:6).

One reason for Israel's unbelief, Paul writes, is to make room on the main body—referred to as "the root"— of God's tree. This open space is intended for the non-Jews in the world. These Gentiles who are coming to God through faith in Christ are like the branches of a wild olive tree that have been grafted onto the trunk of a cultivated plant. The old branches, unbelieving Jews, have been broken off (for a time?) to make this possible (Romans 11:11–16).

Paul warns the Gentile Christians not to be arrogant toward these unbelieving Jews, however. The time is coming, after the right amount of the Gentiles have believed in Christ, when God will remove the hardening from the unbelieving Jews. They will turn to faith in Christ and, as a people, be grafted back onto God's symbolic olive tree, from which they had previously been pruned. God is not done with Israel (Romans 11:17–24)!

In spiritual terms, the Israelites may have been enemies of the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ. They were certainly the spiritual enemies of Paul during his lifetime. Yet, the Jewish people of Israel remain deeply loved by God because of the promises He made to the patriarchs. God never breaks His promises. His gifts and His calling on Israel can't be taken back. God will use His grace and mercy toward the Gentile Christians to make Israel jealous. He will use these events to bring her back to Himself as a nation, in the form of those individual Jews who eventually trust in Christ (Romans 11:25–32).

Paul concludes this section with what has become a beloved poem, like a hymn, about the vast un-knowable-ness and independence of our merciful God (Romans 11:33–36).

John 15:6-8 ESV - If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered: Jesus warned His disciples that failing to abide means that life fails. A branch only has life as it is connected to the stock of the vine (Romans 11); a disciple only spiritually lives as they are connected to the Master.

  • These verbs describe a progression for the one who doesn’t abide: cast out, withered, gathered, thrown, and burned. Like other parables, the picture Jesus used here was not meant to describe a whole theological system. Yet the progression described is a sober and significant warning of the danger of not abiding.

  • The phrasing Jesus used here was important. He didn’t say, If anyone does not bear fruit he is cast out. He said, if anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out. He knows who abides and who does not, and this can’t be perfectly discerned by our outward estimation of fruit.

They gather them and throw them into the fire: The lifeless branch bears no fruit and even its wood is good for nothing but burning. This reference to burning and fire raises the association of punishment in the life to come and warns of the great consequences of failing to abide.

  • We think of how these words would impact the eleven disciples who first heard them. Jesus told them He would depart; yet they would not be disconnected from Him. The work of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, would be to keep them connected to Jesus. If they were disconnected from Him, they would be ruined – perhaps as Judas was.

  • This passage is interpreted at least three ways regarding the security of the professed disciple’s position in Jesus.

    • The first view believes cast out branches are ones who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out.

    • The second view is that the cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas?).

    • The third view sees the cast out branches as fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew).

  • The emphasis seems plain: there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you: Jesus connected the principle of abiding to two ideas previously mentioned in this upper room discussion at Passover:

  • My words abide in you: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words, as previously mentioned in John 14:23-24: 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

  • You will ask what you desire: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of answered prayer, as previously mentioned in John 14:13-14 (13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.) “Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus… Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.” (Spurgeon).

    • Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

    • The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.” (Tenney)

    • This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered probably means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple. This is a difficult concept.

    • It shall be done for you: “It becomes safe for God to say to the sanctified soul, ‘Ask what thou wilt, and it shall be done unto thee.’ The heavenly instincts of that man lead him right; the grace that is within his soul thrusts down all covetous lustings and foul desires, and his will is the actual shadow of God’s will. The spiritual life is master in him, and so his aspirations are holy, heavenly, Godlike.” (Spurgeon)

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit: The purpose of fruit bearing is to bring glory to God, not to the disciple. A branch that bears much fruit brings honor to one who cares for the vine, and a disciple who bears much fruit in a spiritual sense brings honor to God.

  • “Branches and clusters have no self-seeking, no aim outside the Vine and the Husbandman’s glory: all other aims are cast out as unworthy.” (Trench)

  • By this My Father is glorified: “Or, honoured. It is the honour of the husbandman to have good, strong, vigorous vines (not branches), plentifully laden with fruit: so it is the honour of God to have strong, vigorous, holy children, entirely freed from sin, and perfectly filled with his love.” (Clarke)

  • Real fruitfulness is only determined over an extended period of time. “Genuine conversion is not measured by the hasty decision but by long-range fruitfulness.” (Erdman) This principle is displayed in the Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13).

Matthew 18:18-20 ESV - "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

If two of you agree on earth: There is real power in agreement in prayer and in the presence of Jesus. This is exactly what the “unrepentant ones” miss out on.

  • In the ancient Greek, agree is literally “to symphonize.” Jesus wants us to complement each other like a great orchestra. “It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical instruments set to the same key, and playing the same tune: here, it means a perfect agreement of the hearts, desires, wishes, and voices, of two or more persons praying to God.” (Clarke).

It will be done for them by My Father in heaven: We must take advantage of the power of agreement, which works on the principle related in Leviticus 26:8, where five set a hundred enemies to flight but a hundred set ten thousand enemies to flight. There is real power, exponential power in the prayer of agreement.

  • “Perhaps the exact petition which they offer may not apparently be answered. Remember that God often hears the prayer of our prayers, and answers that rather than our prayers themselves.” (Spurgeon)

Where two or three are gathered: Jesus here indicated that meetings of His people – indeed, meetings full of power and authority connected to heaven – do not need to be large gatherings. They can be of two or three of His followers at a time.

  • “Jesus is just as much present in the little congregation as in the great mass meeting…He is not the slave of numbers.” (Barclay)

  • A meeting of two or three is easy to gather. Someone is always close at hand, and it isn’t hard to find a place to meet.

  • “Two or three are mentioned, not to encourage absence, but to cheer the faithful few who do not forget the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is.” (Spurgeon)

    · This shows us that large numbers are not important.

    · …the rank of the people is not important.

    · …the place is not important.

    · …the time is not important.

    · …the form of the meeting should take is not important.

Are gathered together in My name: This shows us that meeting in Jesus’ name is most essential.

  • We are known by Him and by His name.

  • He is our point of gathering; we gather around Jesus.

  • We are gathering according to the character and nature of Jesus.

  • We are gathering in a manner that Jesus would endorse.

I am there in the midst of them: Jesus isn’t just up front, closer to the minister or the leaders. He is in the midst, there to be close to all. It means that he should be proclaimed and revealed to all. Some people leave a church saying, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid Him.”

  • “Our meeting is in the name of Jesus, and therefore there He is; near, not only to the leader, or to the minister, but in the midst, and therefore near to each worshipper.” (Spurgeon)

  • I am there in the midst of them: “None but God could say these words, to say them with truth, because God alone is everywhere present, and these words refer to his omnipresence…Let it be observed, that Jesus is not among them to spy out their sins; or to mark down the imperfections of their worship; but to enlighten, strengthen, comfort, and save them.” (Clarke)

Matthew 7:7 ESV - “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.

Ask… seek… knock: We see a progressive intensity, going from ask to seek to knock. Jesus told us to have intensity, passion, and persistence in prayer. The fact that Jesus came back to the subject of prayer – already dealt with in some depth in Matthew 6:5-15 – shows the importance of prayer.

  • In this three-fold description of prayer as asking, seeking, and knocking we see different aspects of prayer and different aspects of its reward.

    - Prayer is like asking in that we simply make our requests known to God, and everyone who asks receives. Receiving is the reward of asking.

    - Prayer is like seeking in that we search after God, His word, and His will; and he who seeks finds. Finding is the reward of seeking.

    - Prayer is like knocking until the door is opened, and we seek entrance into the great heavenly palace of our Great King. Entering through the opened door into His palace is the reward of knocking, and the best reward of all.

  • “Ask with confidence and humility. Seek with care and application. Knock with earnestness and perseverance.” (Clarke)

  • The idea of knocking also implies that we sense resistance. After all, if the door were already open, there would be no need to knock. Yet Jesus encouraged us, “Even when you sense that the door is closed and you must knock, then do so and continue to do so, and you will be answered.”

  • Yet the image of knocking also implies that there is a door that can be opened. “His doors are meant to open: they were made on purpose for entrance; and so the blessed gospel of God is made on purpose for you to enter into life and peace. It would be of no use to knock at a wall, but you may wisely knock at a door, for it is arranged for opening.” (Spurgeon)

  • We come to God’s door and all we must do is knock. If it were locked against us we would need a locksmith’s tools to break in, but that isn’t necessary; all we must do is knock, and even if I don’t have a burglar’s skills I can still knock – I know enough to do that!

  • “Any uneducated man can knock if that is all which is required of him…A man can knock though he may be no philosopher A dumb man can knock. A blind man can knock. With a palsied hand a man may knock…The way to open heaven’s gate is wonderfully simplified to those who are lowly enough to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and ask, seek, and knock believingly. God has not provided a salvation which can only be understood by learned men…it is intended for the ignorant, the short-witted, and the dying, as well as for others, and hence it must be as plain as knocking at a door.” (Spurgeon)

  • Do you get the idea that God just wants us to worship Him, to turn to Him for all our needs? He loves to give to us and bless us…but we need to give Him that opportunity. If He just handed out blessings without our request, we’d never appreciate Him!!

Ask and it will be given to you: God promises an answer to the one who diligently seeks Him. Many of our passionless prayers are not answered for good reason, because it is almost as if we ask God to care about something we care little or nothing about.

  • God values persistence and passion in prayer because they show that we share His heart. It shows that we care about the things He cares about. Persistent prayer does not overcome God’s stubborn reluctance (as some would say…like “changing God’s mind”); it gives glory to Him, expresses dependence upon Him, and aligns our heart more with His.

    • “No soul can pray in vain that prays as directed above. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus are pledged for its success.- Ye SHALL receive – ye SHALL find – it SHALL be opened. These words are as strongly binding on the side of God, as thou shalt do no murder is on the side of man. Bring Christ’s word, and Christ’s sacrifice with thee, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied thee.” (Clarke)
  • If anyone among you wanders from the truth: Having introduced the topics of sin and confession, James reminds us of the need to confront those who have wandered from the truth. Wanders from the truth is a good picture. People don’t usually wander deliberately – it just sort of happens. Nonetheless, it still gets them off track and possibly in danger.

    • “Read the verse and you will see that it was that of a backslider from the visible church of God. The words, ‘If any of you,’ must refer to a professed Christian.” (Spurgeon)
  • And someone turns him back: This shows us that God uses human instruments in turning sinners back from the errors of their ways. God does not need to use such human instruments, and sometimes He does not. The Apostle Paul – or rather, Saul of Tarsus – was not converted through any human instrument, save perhaps the prayers of the dying martyr Stephen for him. Yet no one preached to him, but Jesus decided to meet him directly.

  • One reason God uses human instruments is because it often brings Him more glory than if He were to do His work by Himself. In this way God is like a skilled workman who makes incredible things using the worst of tools. After the same pattern, God uses earthen vessels to be containers of His glory.

  • “Most persons have been convinced by the pious conversation of sisters, by the holy example of mothers, by the minister, by the Sabbath-school, or by the reading of tracts or perusing Scripture. Let us not therefore believe that God will often work without instruments; let us not sit down silently and say, ‘God will do his own work.’ It is quite true he will; but then he does his work by using his children as instruments.” (Spurgeon)

  • Along this line, can we not say that when we refuse to make ourselves available to God’s service – weak and failing as we are – we in fact rob Him of some of His glory? He can glorify Himself through a weak vessel like you; you should let Him do it.

  • “It may not appear so brilliant a thing to bring back a backslider as to reclaim a harlot or a drunkard, but in the sight of God it is no small miracle of grace, and to the instrument who has performed it shall yield no small comfort. Seek ye, then, my brethren, those who were of us but have gone from us; seek ye those who linger still in the congregation but have disgraced the church, and are put away from us, and rightly so, because we cannot countenance their uncleanness; seek them with prayers, and tears, and entreaties, if peradventure God may grant them repentance that they may be saved.” (Spurgeon)

He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins: There is a blessing for the one who loves his brother enough to confront him, and who turns him from the error of his way. He has saved that soul from death and covered a multitude of sins.

  • This speaks powerfully of the restoration that is possible for those who have sinned. “I know of men of good standing in the gospel ministry, who, ten years ago, fell into sin; and that is thrown in our teeth to this very day. Do you speak of them? You are at once informed, ‘Why, ten years ago they did so-and-so.’ Brethren, Christian men ought to be ashamed of themselves for taking notice of such things so long afterwards. True, we may use more caution in our dealings; but to reproach a fallen brother for what he did so long ago, is contrary to the spirit of John, who went after Peter, three days after he had denied his Master with oaths and curses.” (Spurgeon)

  • James concludes with this because this is exactly what he has endeavored to do through this challenging letter – to confront those who have wandered from a living faith, endeavoring to save their souls from death, by demanding that they not only hear the word, but do it, because a living faith will have its proof.

  • “So the homily ends – abruptly, even more abruptly than the First Epistle of John, without any closing word of farewell to the readers, abruptly but not ineffectively. The Wisdom writings on which it is modeled end as suddenly.” (Moffatt)

John 16:16-27 ESVA little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I Have Overcome the World These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”

In that day you will ask Me nothing: Jesus probably meant that they would be so overcome with joy and relief at the resurrection that they would be speechless when it came to making requests of Jesus. Yet the pathway to audience with God and answered prayer was more open, not more closed.

  • Until now you have asked nothing in My name: “Ye have not as yet considered me the great Mediator between God and man; but this is one of the truths which shall be more fully revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.” (Clarke)

Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you: Because of Jesus’ great work, disciples have unlimited, undeniable access to God through Him. The disciples had yet to really pray in the name of Jesus, but He would teach them.

  • “The meaning is that the atoning death of Jesus will revolutionize the whole situation. On the basis of the Son’s atoning work men will approach God and know the answers to their prayers.” (Morris)

But I will tell you plainly about the Father: The disciples should trust that in this time of restored joy and open access to Jesus, they would know the Father Himself, and know about Him more than ever.

  • Figurative language: “Used here to cover the cryptic expression ‘a little while’ and the metaphor of childbirth used in verse 21.” (Tasker)

For the Father Himself loves you: Jesus makes it clear that the Son did not need to persuade an angry Father to be gracious; but His work would provide a righteous basis for God’s graciousness.

  • “Here Jesus is saying: ‘You can go to God, because he loves you,’ and he is saying that before the Cross. He did not die to change God into love; he died to tell us that God is love. He came, not because God so hated the world, but because he so loved the world. Jesus brought to men the love of God.” (Barclay)

  • “The reason that Christ will not intercede for them is now given. There will be no need. The Father Himself loves them. He does not need to be persuaded to be gracious. In this case the ground of acceptance is the relationship in which they stand to Jesus.” (Morris)

Because you have loved Me: The Father did not love the disciples on the basis of their love for Jesus, but their love for Jesus was evidence of the Father’s love for them.

  • A pulse doesn’t make the heart pump, but it is evidence of it. Our love for God doesn’t make Him love us, but it is evidence that He loves us.

Luke 11:5-13 ESV - "And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. . If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight: In the custom of that day, a whole family lived together in a one-room house. On one side of the house was a raised platform where they all slept; down on the ground were all their animals – a cow, perhaps some sheep and goats and so forth. There was no way the man could come to the door without disturbing the whole household.

Yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs: It took a lot of boldness for the man in the story to so shamelessly ask his friend in the middle of the night; he really wanted and needed the bread.

  • God often waits for our passionate persistence in prayer. It isn’t that God is reluctant and needs to be persuaded. Our persistence doesn’t change God; it changes us, developing in us a heart and passion for what God wants.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you: We are told to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. “All three verbs are continuous: Jesus is not speaking of single activities, but of those that persist.” (Morris)

  • These descriptions speak of an earnestness and intensity; all too often, our prayers are merely wishes cast up to heaven, and this is not real prayer.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Any human father loves to bless his children, and would never answer a simple request for something good with something evil. If that is case with us, how much more will God answer us, though sometimes it doesn’t seem so!

  • How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! God especially loves to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. We never need doubt God’s desire to pour out His Spirit. The problem is in our receiving, not in God’s desire to give.

Matthew 6:5-6 ESV - “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you".

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites: Jesus assumed that His disciples would give, so He told them the right way to give (Matthew 6:1-4). He also assumed that His disciples would pray, and it was important that they not pray in the same manner as the hypocrites.

  • “There are no dumb children in God’s house; the least he hath can ask him blessing. All are not alike gifted, but every godly man prayeth unto thee, saith David, Psalm 32:6.” (Trapp)

For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets: There were two main places where a Jew in Jesus’ day might pray in a hypocritical manner. They might pray at the synagogue at the time of public prayer, or on the street at the appointed times of prayer (9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.).

  • “In synagogue worship someone from the congregation might be asked to pray publicly, standing in front of the ark.” (Carson)

  • “Prayer was not normally practiced at the street corners, but…one who strictly observed the afternoon hour of prayer could deliberately time his movements to bring him to the most public place at the appropriate time.” (France)

That they may be seen by men: These hypocrites prayed not to be heard by God, but to be seen by men. This is a common fault in public prayer today, when people pray to impress or teach others instead of genuinely pouring out their hearts before God.

  • Such prayers are an insult to God. When we mouth words towards God while really trying to impress others, we then use God merely as a tool to impress others.

They have their reward: Again, those praying to be seen of men have their reward, and they should enjoy it in full – because that is all they will receive. There is no reward in heaven for such prayers.

But you, when you pray, go into your room: Rather, we should meet with God in our room (or “closet”). The idea is of a private place where we can impress no one except God.

  • The specific ancient Greek word “room” was used for a storeroom where treasures were kept. This reminds us that there are treasures waiting for us in our prayer closet.

  • Jesus certainly did not prohibit public prayer, but our prayers should always be directed to God and not towards man.