ASK, SEEK, KNOCK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Matthew 7 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being 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!
Bridge: How many of you believe that prayer is powerful? How many of you believe that God answers prayers? How many of you admit that you don’t pray like you believe?
Illustration: Back in college, I lived in a dorm where the ground floor had a break room with some video games and vending machines. One time this coke machine had a glitch. All you had to do was hit a selection and it would give you a coke! When a few of us found that out, we kept that a tightly guarded secret. We made sure no one was around when we went down to get a drink. Every time we would walk past the break room, we would glance to make sure no one else had figured it out. And mind you – this was a Christian college! When you’re in college, 55 cents is a lot of money! We had convinced ourselves that God had done this! But…all good things come to an end. They fixed the glitch. But even months later, we would walk by and just tap a selection, just in case…
Prayer is like that vending machine. You don’t need any change, just need to tap a selection. But unlike that coke machine, God gives you much more than you tap for. By the way, prayer is not a glitch that may get fixed tomorrow. Prayer is a lifelong privilege for every believer.
Context: In the passage we just read, Jesus once again returns to the topic of prayer and encourages His listeners to pray and pray continuously and pray confidently.
Question: How is your prayer life? Do you pray daily? Do you pray confidently? Do you pray expecting God to answer your needs? Have you stopped praying? Have you given up on prayer? Could it be that you don’t pray like you used to because you are disappointed with God? You asked and He did not answer. You pleaded and He did not answer the way you wished He had. Today’s message will help clear some of those misunderstandings so you can pray again and pray better than before. But the prayer that God wants you to pray more than any other is the prayer of salvation. Have you ever prayed to ask Jesus to save you and come into your life? Do it now.
You may not know but there are 3 questions often raised about this passage on prayer. We will try to answer them and in the process understand the importance of prayer:
I. WHY DID JESUS BRING UP PRAYER AGAIN?
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…”
Background: For those of you who have been following this series on the Sermon on the Mount, you may remember that Jesus talked about prayer earlier in this sermon. In chapter 6, He told His disciples not to pray like the hypocrites, standing in the synagogues and the street corners. He taught them to pray in the secret place and without vain repetitions. He taught them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come…” Then it seemed like He was done with the subject of prayer and went on to talk about treasures and serving two masters and worry and anxiety and judging others. Then abruptly and randomly He starts talking about prayer again! What’s going on?
Listen carefully – Jesus was not revisiting the subject of prayer. He never left it to begin with. He was still on the subject of prayer. Everything that He talked about after teaching “The Lord’s Prayer” was still in the context of talking to the Father:
- “Treasures on earth and treasures in heaven” was about trusting the Father.
- “Not serving two masters” was about remaining loyal only to God.
- “Not to worry” was about taking all our cares and anxieties to God.
- “Judge not” was about prayerfully confronting and not condemning others.
The point is that Jesus never left the subject of prayer. In His own life, prayer undergirded everything that He did. He prayed late into the night. He prayed early in the morning while it was still dark. He prayed before meals. He prayed before He chose His disciples. He prayed before the miracles. He prayed after the miracles. He prayed when He was busy. He prayed when He was tired. He prayed by Himself. He prayed with others. He prayed in the face of disbelief. He prayed in the face of temptation. He prayed for Himself. He prayed for others. The point is this – Prayer marked Jesus’s life. In other words, Jesus was constantly in a state of prayer.
The problem with us today is that we compartmentalize our life between sacred and secular, devotion and duty, and prayer and practice, but Jesus didn’t. We tack on prayer to our day or sprinkle it once in a while when prayer should be interwoven throughout our daily life. Every moment, every step, and every decision we make in life should be approached with prayer. You should always be in a spirit and a mindset of prayer.
Application: Does prayer mark your life? Can it be said of you what was said of Jesus in Hebrews 5:7 that “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…” Or do you bring up prayer only when things get rough?
II. WAS JESUS TELLING US NOT TO GIVE UP ON PRAYER?
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Background: A common misunderstandings about this passage is that Jesus was simply reminding us to persist in prayer. I’ve heard messages on this passage and I’m sure you have to where the speaker said that the reason Jesus used the triple imperatives – Ask, Seek, and Knock – was to emphasize the need to pray. Although, we should “pray without ceasing,” as Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17, this passage is not about persistence in prayer. Some even claim that a better translation would be “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.” To me it would be an overtranslation.
What was Jesus’ intent in using the triple imperatives – “Ask, Seek, and Knock?” Listen to the verses following – 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being 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! Think about the illustration. Jesus is using sarcasm, a form of humor. Picture Dad or mom – your son or daughter comes to you and says, “I’m hungry. Can I have a sandwich?” You answer – “Here’s a rock sandwich. There’s more where that came from!” Or, they come to you and say – “Can we have some fish?” You answer – “Sure. Here’s a Copperhead. Try it with some BBQ sauce.” How ridiculous does that sound? Now if sinful human parents will give good things to their children, will not the perfect Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him.
What’s the point? Jesus is not advocating persistence in prayer that but assurance in the nature of God. In other words, don’t give up on prayer not because you shouldn’t give up on prayer but don’t give up on prayer because you have a Heavenly Father who will always give you the very best. Meaning: Don’t just believe in the power of prayer but trust in the nature of God. So the real question is not “Do you believe in the power of prayer?” but “Do you trust in the nature of God?” This brings up another question – “What do you believe about God?”
Illustration: Many years ago at a very vulnerable time in a life when I was going through some doubts and discouragements about my life, I heard a message by Warren Wiersbe. In this message, he made a statement that has stayed me and come back to me time and again when I needed it – “Satan will try to tell you that ‘God is not giving you what you deserve’ or that ‘God is holding out on the best for your life.’” If you think about it, this is exactly what he told our grandparents Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 – “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Her response – “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” His response – “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Listen carefully – People stop praying because somewhere they start believing the lies of Satan and start trusting in the true nature of God. They start making rash, erratic, and prayerless decisions because they have believed some lie about God.
Application: What do you believe about God? Do you believe that He is a good good Father who always has the best in mind for His children? Have you fallen for the enemy’s lies? Have you given up on prayer because of something that has happened in life?
III. WAS JESUS PROMISING A HEALTH AND WEALTH PRAYER?
11 If you then, being 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!
Background: This passage has been abused and misused by people, especially TV evangelists in our era – “God wants you to have health and wealth.” Nothing is wrong with health and wealth and you can pray for those things as well but there’s more that God wants to do in your life and through your life than health and wealth. For example, think about Job and Moses and Ruth and Paul and so many others in the Bible who endured tragedy and pain and wants and needs for a greater purpose. Good gifts are not just more self-gratifying pleasures but the kingdom of God.
God is a Heavenly Father who knows what is best for His children and He loves us too much to answer any and every prayer. We have a very limited and finite view of life but God sees the big picture. Only eternity will show how good of a Father He really is!
Think about Jesus – Philippians 2 7 but (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Application: What are you asking God for? Are you willing to say with Jesus – “Not my will but Yours be done.” Are you willing to pray again with confidence in the nature of God? Are you saved? If not, pray that prayer now and ask Jesus to save you