Offending God in Prayer


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! ”

Picture this. You see someone dropping off a load of sand at a job site. You ask him what he’s doing. He says, “I’m delivering sand.”

The next day, you see someone else doing the same thing and ask the same question. This guy says, “I’m delivering mortar ingredients for the bricklayers.”

On the third day, another new delivery guy, same question. “I’m helping build a church.”

The difference is whether they know and/or care about the context of their actions.

Christian eyes are all about context and nothing provides more context than prayer. I’m in a group of men that pray nightly. Lately, we’ve seen a plethora of answered prayers, some of them spectacular.

And we haven’t been praying for things like “traveling mercies” either (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We’ve been granted some heavy lifts. It’s impossible to overstate how encouraging this is.

But, at the risk of being obvious, you have to pray a lot to see a lot of answered prayer. That’s the Lord’s point in today’s passage. Don’t be afraid to ask. Here’s the classic example of that.

So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said—look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground. — Judges 6:36–40

Gideon’s prayer is essential to interpreting what’s going on with the dew. But he’s afraid to ask it. His prayer is so bold he’s worried that God will be offended.

He’s not.

There’s almost no wrong way to pray (just don’t do it on the street-corner for everyone to see).

pray without ceasing, — 1 Thessalonians 5:17

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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