Friday, August 24, 2012
Today’s Topic: Elevator Praying
Today’s Text: Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
How many people did you communicate with yesterday? For some of you that number will be very high, while for others it will be very low. Some of the reasons for such a wide range of responses are things like opportunity, personality, and personal preference. But there’s one huge reason for the differences that you may not have considered – definition.
How we define communication determines how we answered the question. If communication is nothing more than saying hello, then our count is high. If communication means the expression of facts and feelings combined with listening to the same from the other person, then the count is probably extremely low.
So let’s ask another question. Have you prayed today? Again, your response is going to be determined by your definition of prayer. Now let me state clearly that just saying “Hi” to God is still prayer, and it’s important to be in that attitude of His presence every minute of every day. But is it enough?
Several weeks ago the Lord Jesus put upon my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit to consider prayer as an elevator. The elevator stops at every floor, but we are missing out on a great privilege by not taking it all the way to the top.
Let’s get a word picture firmly in place in our minds eye. Our prayer closet has suddenly become an elevator. It is the access point to the Eternal. It is where we communicate with the Father. There are multiple floors at which we can stop and exit and experience His presence. The building is divided into three levels, with multiple stops in each level. Let’s get on at the ground floor and make our way up to the top, checking out each level as we go.
Level one is the Ask Level. This is entry level prayer, where we seek to understand the “what” and the “how” of our current circumstances. It’s at this level that we are satisfied to simply get a solution to our problems. There are times in crisis situations where this level is all the higher we have time to access. But that’s okay – God inhabits this level, and hears our cries for help.
Level two is the Seek Level. This is mid-level prayer, where we seek to understand the “why” of our circumstances. We have chosen to exit the elevator at a higher level of communication with the Father, moving beyond the request for a solution to a deeper conversation about the purpose of God for designing and allowing this event. We ask questions at this level. They are still “what” and “how” questions, but they are not focused on the circumstance but upon our heart. “What do you want me to learn, Father?” “What do I need to change, Father?” “How will this help me to grow to be more like your Son, Father?” God is on this level as well, and His grace extends to our deepest need of forgiveness and spiritual development.
Level three is the Knock level. This is roof-top prayer, where we seek to know the “Who” of our circumstances. On the rooftop we have moved past the focus on the circumstance to the highest level of communication possible, where two hearts are connected as one. It is here that we begin to experience the Presence of the Father. Here we are no longer captivated by the circumstances but rather lavished with the Father’s love. This is what God intended prayer to be for all of us.
At every level God makes a promise.
- If you ask for a solution, you shall receive one that honors His will for your life
- If you seek understanding, He will reveal His will to you within His knowledge of your capacity to understand.
- If you knock because you want to deepen your relationship with Him, He will open the door to His presence and reveal Himself to you.
In the publication Our Daily Bread from July 10, 1999, Nancy Spiegelberg wrote this: Lord, I crawled across the bareness to you with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better. I’d have come running with a bucket.
Have you prayed today? Really? Pastor John