I don’t to it every morning, but often, after reading the passages in my reading plan, and while I’m noodling on what I’ve read, I’ll go back through my online journal and see what thoughts have come to mind in past years. Sometimes it’s because I’m feeling full and I’m curious as to how that fullness overflowed in the past. Sometimes it’s because I’m feeling somewhat dry and I often find a thought from the past has a way of ministering to my soul. This morning, feeling a bit dry and so I’m “thumbing” through the archives. And this thought from back in 2008 has been good for me to chew on.
So, kind of an interesting one-two punch from the Word this morning between Matthew 7 and Acts 10. A one-two punch is where the boxer sets up his opponent with the first punch and then delivers the second to the exposed area. The “set up” was a familiar reading in Matthew.
“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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)
Pray. Ask, seek, knock. And you’ll receive, find, and have entrance. Just ask Him!
So, the set up is a reminder of how important prayer needs to be in my life and that I need to take time to talk to God.
Then to Acts 10. And what do I read of in the first few verses? Prayer.
Cornelius, a Centurion . . . aka a Roman . . . aka a Gentile, was a man who “prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2). And then I read of Peter going up on a housetop to pray (Acts 10:9). And at first, my reaction is, “How cool. Acts 10 reinforces Matthew 7. Yeah, prayer is important.” But then I see something that makes it even cooler. Who’s talkin’ to who?
Cornelius is praying like he always does — asking, seeking, knocking — and then BAM!!! An angel appears to him in a vision. Peter thinks he’s about done talking with God — asking, seeking, knocking — ’cause he’s getting hungry and then BAM!!! He falls into a trance and heaven is opened up to him and he has a thrice repeated argument with the Lord of heaven.
Now, I don’t think Cornelius was on his knees saying, “May I talk with an angel, please.” And, I’m pretty sure Peter wasn’t knocking on the door to heaven asking for something that would turn his world upside down, as in”Gentiles are people too,” or, “God desires to save them just as He desires to save the children of Israel–so don’t call anything unclean.” So, again, I ask, who’s talkin’ to who?
And it makes me think that I should be prepared for the possibility of a similar dynamic to occur in the context of my prayer life. That is, don’t be surprised if, when you’re talking with God about your world, that He ends up talking to you about His.
Now, I’m not saying that we should expect visions frequently. I’m guessin’ those are pretty rare. And I’m not saying that every time we close our eyes we’ll “hear His voice.” But, I guess I am saying we at least should be listening for it. I think we should expect that sometimes we are going to come to God with our prayer list and He’s going to change the subject and talk to us about His plans for our lives or the lives of those around us. Kind of adds an exciting dimension to prayer, doesn’t it?
Father, I desire to know more the fullness of communion that prayer can bring. Help me in finding the time and focus to go to my “roof top” and ask and seek and knock in prayer. And, Lord, as I’m talking to You, help me to be attentive to Your voice and recognize when You’re really talking to me.
For my continued growth in Christ . . . and for Your glory . . . Amen.