“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (KJV, Matt. 7:7-8).
Jesus’ Words in Matthew 7:7-8 are highly instructive concerning the topic of prayer. He begins by telling His listeners of their need to ask. The Christian must avail himself of prayer, for if he does not, there will be many blessings he never receives. Scripture says, “…yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). The words of James are simple yet profound. The saying is short, yet it has deep implications. When A Christian does not ask God for God’s blessings, he will not receive many of them.
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Much of prayer consists of asking God for the sake of oneself and as an intercessor for others. For example, when God told Abraham of His plan to destroy Sodom, Abraham asked God several times to spare the people and the city.
Abraham asked God to spare the city if there were at least fifty righteous people, and God heeded Abraham’s request. Abraham asked again for God to spare the city if there were at least forty-five righteous people. God responded to Abraham’s request positively. Abraham was able to turn the tides through prayer by his asking God for mercy. In the end, Abraham asked God to spare the city if there were ten righteous people, and God said He would honor Abraham’s request.
It is likely that if Abraham had continued to ask God, then Sodom and its people would have been spared.
“and it shall be given to you”
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God would have likely heeded Abraham’s request because God answers prayer. The one who asks shall be given his request. While this portion of Scripture was not meant to reduce God to the servant of man, it must be seen that God is a God Who answers prayer.
In the end, God destroyed Sodom. He could not find ten righteous people. He did not destroy Sodom because He failed to honor His word. Once again, it is likely that God would have honored Abraham’s prayer had Abraham continued to pray. God has said through the prophet Jeremiah, “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jer. 5:1). Thus, God desired to pardon Jerusalem for the sake of one righteous man.
While prayer consists of asking, it is much more than that. Prayer is also about seeking. In other words, prayer is a means of acquiring something through a diligent search. God desires to be sought, and prayer is one of the most significant ways of finding Him and His favor.
Before Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 7:7-8, He shared the Lord’s prayer. He told of how when someone prays, he must look to Father. Then in Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus tells of the way that the Father desires to be sought. David has said, When thou saidist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Ps. 27:8). David was moved by God’s desire for David to seek Him. As a result, David eagerly sought the Lord.
“and ye shall find”
When someone seeks God, he will find Him. The logic is clear, ask and receive, seek and find. Jesus was a Master at using simple-everyday illustrations to depict spiritual realities. While there is a depth to the Word of God and spiritual things, there is also a simplicity that must be recognized.
Scripture says, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deut. 4:29). Seeking naturally implies that a person does not have something. The Christian must not assume that he has all of God that he needs or that God is willing to give. God has made it clear that when someone seeks Him with his whole heart, that person will find God.
Not only must the Christian ask and seek, but he must also knock. Knocking implies a continual effort to acquire the attention of someone. For example, in Acts 12, Peter is said to have been in prison. Later in the chapter, an angel delivers Peter from imprisonment. Then Peter arises and goes to a home where people are praying for him. When Peter arrived at the home, the Bible says, “…Peter knocked at the door of the gate…” (Acts 12:13). Despite his knocking, the gate was not opened.
“and it shall be opened unto you”
Therefore, the Bible says, “But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished” (Acts 12:16). Thus, Peter’s knocking eventually drew out Peter’s desired response. So it is also with God. When the Christian knocks on God’s door, he must not give up but must continue until the Lord blesses him.
A popular passage on persistent prayer is found in the book of Genesis. An event is told in which Jacob comes face to face with an angel. The Bible says that Jacob was all by himself, and the angel of the Lord wrestled with Jacob all night. The imagery is remarkable. Jacob was alone with God and would not let the angel of the Lord go until the angel blessed him. Jacob prevailed with God through his persistence; in the end, one can read that God blessed him (Gen. 32:29).
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”
Jesus virtually repeats His former words. But the reader is made keenly aware that there are promises associated with prayer. He says that the one who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks will have the door opened to him.
God has made many promises to those Who call upon His name. Scripture says, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him” (Ps. 91:15). Deliverance, an answer to prayer, and the presence of God are all promised in this short verse. But did you notice who the promise is reserved for? The promise is reserved for the one who calls upon the Lord in prayer.
God is poised and ready to answer the Christian’s call. The Bible bears out this truth in a striking way. God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Jer. 33:3). God is so quick to answer the prayers of the Christian that He anticipates prayer and will, at times, respond before the Christian sets out to pray. This does not mean that a Christian should not pray. The words depict one who was going to pray and may have even prayed. However, the answer to the foreseen prayer was already granted.
Finally, it must be noted that God does not answer every prayer. In other words, He does not grant every request. Jesus was not teaching that God always gives the Christian what he prays for. Instead, Jesus’ words can help the Christian on the matter. Jesus has said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). When the words of Christ abide in the Christian, he will be living and praying according to God’s will.
When someone asks according to God’s will, he can know that his prayers will be answered. The more the abiding relationship of Christ and the believer becomes a reality, the more he will experience answers to prayer.
Father, I thank You for the gift of prayer. You have truly blessed me with the privilege and responsibility to be in prayer. Teach me to abide in Christ and to have the words of Christ abide in me that I may pray according to Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.