“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 7:7-11 ESV)
In today’s passage, part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus returns to the subject of prayer. He had previously addressed prayer earlier in this message. Since He again addresses the issue we can be sure that He considers it to be an important topic.
God wants us to bring our requests and questions to Him (ask). Notice the promise from God. If we simply ask, it will be given. God answers prayer. And while we might not get everything we want when we want, God is willing to give good things to those who ask Him.
But more than just asking, we are to seek. The Greek word here is ζετεο (pronounced: dzay-teh’-o) which means “to crave”. We are to have a deep desire to find information from God. Seeking requires action and inconvenience. If we don’t get an answer by simply asking, we are to pursue our request with increasing passion (knock implies every more action and more passion).
Whether we do this or not reveals how truly we want what we are asking for. God is willing to give to everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks. The “everyone” in this passage is only applicable to those who are God’s children by faith in Jesus [John 1:12]. The promises made by Jesus in these passages do not belong to those who do not have God as their father.
God wants to give good things to those who ask Him. We don’t have to twist God’s arm. We can conclude that being persistent in prayer does not, therefore, break down God’s will. Persistence in prayer reveals how deep our desire is. If we stop after a one-time request we probably didn’t care too much about what we were asking for. We only expend energy on that which we really want.
When we ask but do not receive it is possible that we are asking with the wrong motive [James 4:3]. God never promises to fulfill our selfish desires. God will also not answer a prayer for anything that is not within His will for us [1 John 5:14]. God knows what is best for us. We do not. We are like little children who if left to themselves would eat candy and soda for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But a parent knows this is not best for their child.
In a similar way, God knows what is best for us and He wants us to learn to seek such things. When we don’t get an answer to prayer we need to consider that what we are asking for is not good for us. Sometimes God’s silence is a lesson in itself.
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