How many times have you been asked to pray for someone only to forget about it later on? You are not alone. Fortunately, my attentiveness to prayer was transformed one day when I was sitting in a hospital room after my wife’s surgery in Long Island, New York. It wasn’t like I was looking for transformation that day; I was minding my own business, reading through the Gospel of Matthew, when God opened my eyes to see a truth that in my blindness I had overlooked every other time I had read the familiar passage found in Matthew 7:7-12.
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. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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 7:7-12 ESV)
If you were looking at your Bible you would know the above passage is not complete, it is only Matthew 7:7-11. We typically stop at verse 11, but Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say a verse that is one of the most well know statements in the entire Bible. It is the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Are you surprised to find it here in this context?
Jesus put The Golden Rule right at the culminating point of a passage about deliberate, persistent, hopeful prayer. So one of my takeaways from that hospital room years ago is this: Jesus wants us to approach prayer for our children, grandchildren and others with the same intensity and hopeful expectation as we would want them to approach praying for us.
Once again Jesus brilliantly blows away the fog of confusion that can linger over prayer. Jesus knows that we are crystal clear about how we want people to pray for us and so he gives us the Golden Rule in the context of prayer.
Here is the point: when we are in need, we don’t want people to pray casually. We want them to pray with purposeful intensity because we know that in God’s mercy and providence their prayers could change our situations. When I was in that hospital room years ago sitting by my wife’s bed, I knew exactly how I wanted people to be praying for my wife and me, and it wasn’t casually. I encourage you to let the Golden Rule shape the intensity and hopeful expectation of your prayers for the next generation and all that they are facing and will face as they grow up.