When you watch Biography, or one its knock-offs that seem to appear on every cable network these days, you see stories of some people who just seem to be lucky, who just seem to get all the breaks. They get the part on their first audition; the first song they record becomes a number one hit; their first business idea makes them a million dollars.
We’ve all known people who are like that…even if they’re not famous. Things just seem to happen to them without any effort on their part. And we’ve also known people who are just the opposite — who seem to attract bad luck like a magnet. If there’s a hole in the ground, they’re going to fall in it. If a tornado blows through, it’s their house that will get hit. If someone’s computer is going to crash, it will be his or hers. Even though I don’t believe in luck, some days I feel like that person (especially about the computer!).
There are some self-help gurus that teach you can attract good luck or bad luck, depending on your attitude, and they offer to teach you techniques that will help you exude confidence and create the life of your dreams. Of course, buying their material usually doesn’t help you much, but it helps them create the life of their dreams.
I once received a 16-page letter in the mail advertising one of these types of books. I want you to read some of it:
This may be the luckiest day of your life! You are one of only a very few selected people to receive this personal memo.” [Of course, like all personal memo’s it was printed on newsprint.]
“By the time you finish reading this personal memo, you’ll know exactly what to do to make $5,000, $10,000, even $100,000 cash…IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!” [If it’s multiple choice, I think I’ll take the $100 thousand.]
“Plus…prosper in every area of your life: emotionally, personally, physically, romantically, and financially. All the money, power and romantic love you’ve ever-wanted can come to you easily, effortlessly and automatically. All you have to do is learn the simple, easy, secret system a scientist spent his life uncovering.”
The letter then describes how the author transformed his life from living in a shack and driving a clunker to living in a $3 million mansion and driving a Mercedes. And it goes on to promise that all who buy his system “will live like millionaires without lifting a finger.”
This guy will sell a lot of books because there are a lot of people out there who want to do what he claims to be able to do: They want to attract success — especially if it can be done without lifting a finger.
Over the years I’ve met many Christians who have the same approach to life, except they use different terminology. Their attitude is that when it comes to answered prayer, or pursuing our goals and dreams in life; we’re not supposed to do anything at all. We’re just supposed to let God take care of everything while we just go along for the ride.
That attitude may sound spiritual to some people, but it’s not what Jesus taught. In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches that we play an important role in our answered prayers. Jesus teaches that we are not to approach life passively, waiting for things to happen, but we are to approach life aggressively, and make things happen — for God’s glory. Fate, or fortune, or luck has nothing to do with it. However, we can create our own “luck” — we can make our dreams come through — through prayer and corresponding actions.
I don’t believe in fate or fortune or luck or anything like it. People who believe in these things often use them as an excuse to approach life passively, and that’s not the approach Jesus wants us to take.
Instead, In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us how he wants us to approach life:
(v. 7) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
These three verbs — ask, seek, and knock – – are all written in the present imperative, which describes continuous action. In other words, “ask and keep on asking”…”seek and keep on seeking”…”knock and keep on knocking.” Jesus is telling us that the key to making a dream come true is to pursue it consistently, persistently, and aggressively.
Waiting around for better luck and offering up a couple of half-hearted prayers will not make your dreams come true. In these verses Jesus tells us how to present our prayers to God, how to approach our goals, our dreams, our ambitions, and everything else that we do. He mentions three things; tomorrow we’ll look at the first one: “ask”