May 8, 2022
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, When Parents Pray.
Nothing will put you on your knees like having children.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). This is an iron-clad promise from the Word of God.
There are three keywords in this passage: ask, seek, and knock.
“You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2b). Satan cannot keep God from answering, so he will endeavor to keep you from asking. God has not only invited but also commanded us to pray. (See Mark 14:38, Philippians 4:6.) There is no substitute for prayer.
We do not pray to impress or inform God. “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8). We pray to invite God. God wants us to ask Him, and here are three reasons why:
We work with God. (See 2 Corinthians 6:1). God could do it without us, but He loves us too much to leave us out.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). God wants you to receive strength from Him.
Also, being refused or having to wait causes us to wonder, “Why did God not answer my prayer?” Then we examine our hearts, and we grow.
If God gave us what we needed without our asking, we would cease to depend upon Him. Asking God for what we need ought to be as natural as breathing.
Here is a test: if you cannot ask God for some desire of your heart, you have no business wanting it.
Sometimes we don’t know what to ask for, and sometimes we ask for the wrong thing. We have to find direction in our prayers.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God is not going to give you the wrong thing, no matter how many times you ask.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8, 10). Maybe God’s very presence is what you need.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b).
When the answer doesn’t come, seek God’s purpose, presence, and power with all of your heart. Prayer is not bending God’s will to fit our will; prayer is finding the will of God and getting in on it.
Prayer is a battle. We are up against all the minions of Hell, and we sometimes indeed have to knock and keep knocking.
Sometimes prayers are answered directly—you ask God for something, and He gives it to you.
But sometimes God answers differently. He does not give you what you ask; He gives you something better. “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26b).
Sometimes the answer is denied—because God is not going to give you something that will harm you.
Sometimes the answer is delayed.
“Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, “Get justice for me from my adversary.” And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’” (Luke 18:1-8; word in brackets added)
God is not saying that He is like an unjust judge! The point is that this woman wouldn’t stop asking. “And shall not God avenge His own elect?” (v.7)
This brings a real question: when should you stop praying for something?
God may say, “You are asking me to do something I am not going to do. But this is what you really need—and I have heard your prayer.” Then you say, “Thank you, Lord.”
About his “thorn in the flesh,” Paul said, “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
Parents, we need to pray for our children. Jesus concludes:
“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” (Matthew 7:9-11)!
Why do we have assurance of answered prayer?
We are imperfect, but we love our children. “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)!
If you ask God for a stone, or a serpent, He will not give it to you. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
You have the sympathy of your Father, and the sovereignty of your King.
No one should try to be a parent who does not know how to pray. God will hear your prayer, if you pray as Jesus taught us. (See Matthew 6:5-15.) All prayer must be in the name of Jesus—and you cannot pray in Jesus’ name without having Christ in your heart as Lord and Savior.