Verse of the Day 12-9-22

Persistent Prayer: Matthew 7:7-11

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 what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? So if you, despite 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! (NASB)

            Jesus here is wrapping up his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He had already taught those who had gathered around him how to pray. But now he is teaching them the value of being persistent in their prayers. But more importantly he is teaching them the value of taking their needs directly to God.

            Verses 7-8 lay out the value of persistent and constant prayer, when Jesus said these words:

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. (Matthew 7:7-8 NASB)

            Jesus here is encouraging perseverance (i.e., “active patience” and/or determination) in prayer. The tense of the Greek verbs in verse 8 carries the meaning of action that keeps going on. In other words, verse 8 should read something like this, “For everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the one who keeps seeking will find, and to the one who keeps knocking it will be opened.” What this means is that we must keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. However, what it does not mean is that we need to beg God to answer our prayers. But it does mean that instead of worrying about a certain issue, we take it to God and acknowledge that the situation is in his hands.

            Now let’s deal with the meaning of “asking,” “seeking,” and “knocking.” Asking means that we recognize our need and that we trust God to hear our prayers. Seeking means that our request is earnest and that we are willing to obey God and pursue his purposes when he responds with an answer or instruction. Knocking means that we keep bringing the request to God even when he does not respond quickly. Such “active patience” does not show a lack of faith, but rather a constant admission that we need God’s help and have turned over our needs to him. Jesus’ assurance that those who ask will receive for God is based on:

  1. Keeping our priorities focused on God and seeking his kingdom priorities first (Matthew 6:33).
  2. Recognizing God’s fatherly goodness and love (Matthew 6:8; 7:11; John 15:16; 16:23; 26 and Colossians 1:9-12).
  3. Praying according to God’s will and keeping our desires in line with his (Mark 11:24; John 21:22 and 1 John 5:14).
  4. Maintaining communication and friendship with Christ (John 15:7).
  5. Obeying Christ (1 John 3:22).

In the next two verses Jesus gives us an example of what he was trying to convey in verses 7-8.

Or what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? (Matthew 7:9-10 NASB)

            In these two verses Jesus is telling those who are listening to him speak, that God like a human parent is only going to give his children things that are beneficial to them when they ask for them. In fact here is what the Message paraphrase renders these two verses as saying: “If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?”

            These two rhetorical questions led Jesus directly into the point that he has been trying make over these 4 verses, which we find in verse 11: “So if you, despite 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!”

            Jesus here is making a spectacular and wonderful promise that God the Father will not ever disappoint his children, which is the whole point of what Jesus has been teaching in the previous 4 verses. Jesus is trying to convey to us that God loves us even more than any good earthly father could love his children; and that God wants us to ask him for whatever we need, promising to give us what is good and best for us. God desires to provide solutions for our problems and to supply our daily needs. And most of all, he gives the Holy Spirit to his children as their Counselor and Helper (Luke 11:13 and John 14:16-18).

            Here is the point: Your earthly parents whether they were “good” or “bad” did what they thought was best for you, but no matter hard they try they will always disappoint you in some way or another. However, God will never disappoint you because he always knows what is best for you and is just waiting for you to ask, seek and knock.

Today’s Bible Readings:

Joel 1-3, Revelation 1, Psalm 128:1-6 and Proverbs 29:18

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