Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
This passage is probably quite familiar to you. Jesus is speaking; or rather, teaching His “Sermon
on the Mount” and imparting various spiritual lessons to those gathered and
following Him. The “Sermon on the Mount”
actually begins in Matthew Chapter 5
and concludes in Chapter 7. If you have the opportunity this week, I would encourage
to take some time to read it again. As
usual, I want to reprint the passage in its surrounding context:
Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
The passage is focused on our prayer time and quiet time before God. The key principle is that we “ask” God for our needs, and that He is a loving and faithful Father and will give “good gifts to those who ask Him.” Even the order of the action words in Verse 7 form an acronym of the word “ASK” as shown:
I think Jesus is encouraging us to take “action” when in prayer. In prayer we are asking God for His help; seeking wisdom for our questions and concerns; and knocking on the doors of possibilities for answers to be provided. But part of the deal is that we must believe God will answer prayer and do so in a manner that is “good” for us. That might not always be what we think God should do or how He should answer our prayers…. The Apostles, as other inspired writers of Scripture, urge us to ask and seek God in prayer for our needs. Note some of the insight surrounding prayer that James affords to us:
James 1:5-7 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
James 4:1-3 (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Paul was not afraid to seek God and to ask Him for “good things”. Here are some examples of powerful prayers that serve as models for us:
Ephesians 1:16-19 (NIV)
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 3:15-21 (NIV)
16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
And, of course, John encourages us to trust in the character of the Father and the Son to answer our prayers:
1 John 3:21-23 (NIV)
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. 23 And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He (Jesus) commanded us.
1 John 5:13-15 (NIV)
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.
What are some of your take-aways from these passages? Mine are that we should ask in faith; ask according to His revealed will; and have confidence before God that we will receive IF we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. God is generous and good as we know, but what we ask and how we ask and the intimacy of our personal relationship with God appear to affect answers and outcomes to our prayers. I believe we need to examine ourselves in these areas more if we have come to the conclusion that “God does not hear me”. Perhaps, the problem is not God at all….
For some final comments, I wanted to connect this Verse of the Day with our pursuit of holiness and living a consecrated life before God. More specifically, our lesson on temptation from 1 Corinthians 10:13 comes to mind: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” My thought is this: Do we boldly ASK God for help when we are enticed by our hearts to indulge in sinful behavior or conduct? Do we diligently SEEK His power to resist and flee? Do we KNOCK on the door of “escape” He promised in His Word to afford us? The Apostle James wrote about this conflict within us:
James 1:12-15 (NIV)
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
To interrupt this process of temptation => sin => death, we need to ASK God for His power. As Peter wrote: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3) We need to SEEK the way out of temptation. As James concluded: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) And we need to KNOCK on the door of heaven for a place refuge. As Jesus declared: “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:7-10)
So now you know … that Jesus instructed us to simply ASK. If we will keep His commands; do what pleases Him; and ask according to His will – He will hear us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. Let’s start asking for the conviction to consecrate our lives to God. Let’s start praying for holiness to be the fervent and persistent passion of our hearts. Let’s start resisting the devil who lies and deceives and urges us to act on the temptations we have in our hearts. Let’s start submitting ourselves God wholly and completely … knowing that our gracious Father knows how to give good gifts (the anointing of the Holy Spirit) to those who ask Him. Amen!