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.
When you pause to consider that God is infinitely strong and can do all that he pleases, and that he is infinitely righteous so that he only does what is right, and that he is infinitely good so that everything he does is perfectly good, and that he is infinitely wise so that he always knows perfectly what is right and good, and that he is infinitely loving so that in all his strength and righteousness and goodness and wisdom he raises the eternal joy of his loved ones as high as it can be raised — when you pause to consider this, then the lavish invitations of this God to ask him for good things, with the promise that he will give them, is unimaginably wonderful.
This means that one of the great short-term tragedies in the church is how little inclination we have to pray. The greatest invitation in the world is extended to us, and incomprehensibly we regularly turn away to other things. It’s as though God sent us an invitation to the greatest banquet that ever was and we sent word back, “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it,” or, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go to examine them,” or, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come” (Luke 14:18–20).
He Invites Us to Pray
Three times he invites us to pray — or, you could say, if you will hear it lovingly, three times he commands us to pray — to ask him for what we need. It’s the number of times that he invites us that gets our attention. Verses 7–8:
The repetition is meant to say, “I mean this.” I want you to do this. Ask your Father for what you need. Seek your Father for the help you need. Knock on the door of your Father’s house so he will open and give you what you need. Ask, seek, knock. I invite you three times because I really want you to enjoy your Father’s help.
Even better and more amazing than the three invitations are the seven promises. Verses 7–8: “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.” Then at the end of verse 11b (7): “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
God Makes Himself Available at Different Levels
Jesus encourages us not only by the number of invitations and promises, but by the threefold variety of invitations. In other words, God stands ready to respond positively when you find him at different levels of accessibility.
Everyone Who Asks Receives
Jesus encourages us to pray by making it explicit that everyone who asks receives, not just some. Verse 8: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” When he adds the word everyone in verse 8, he wants to overcome our timidity and hesitancy that somehow it will work for others but not for us. Of course, he is talking about the children of God here, not all human beings. If we will not have Jesus as our Savior and God as our Father, then these promises don’t apply to us.
We Are Coming to Our Father
We have implied it, now let’s say it explicitly with its own force: when we come to God through Jesus, we are coming to our Father. Verse 11: “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!” Father was not a throw away label for Jesus. It is one of the greatest of all truths. God is our Father. The implications is that he will never, never give us what is bad for us. Never. He is our Father.
Our Heavenly Father Is Better than Our Earthly Father
Then the Jesus encourages us to pray by showing us that our heavenly Father is better than our earthly father and will far more certainly give good things to us than they did. There is no evil in our heavenly Father like there is in our earthly father.
We Can Trust God’s Goodness Because He Has Already Made Us His Children
Here is another implicit encouragement to pray: God will give us good things as his children because he has already given us the gift to become his children.
This insight came from St. Augustine: “For what would he not now give to sons when they ask, when he has already granted this very thing, namely, that they might be sons?” We have already seen that being a son of God is a gift we receive when we come to Jesus (John 1:12).
The Cross Is the Foundation of Prayer
Finally, implicit in these words is the cross of Christ as the foundation for all the answers to our prayer. The reason I say this is because he calls us evil and yet he says we are children of God. How can it be that evil people are adopted by an all holy God? How can we presume to be children, let alone ask and expect to receive, and seek and expect to find, and knock and expect to have the door opened?
Jesus gave the answer several times. In Matthew 20:28, he said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He gave his life to ransom us from the wrath of God and put us in the position of children who only receive good things.
Take Jesus at His Word
But if we take Jesus at his word, oh how much blessing we forfeit because we do not ask and seek and knock — blessings for ourselves, our families, our church, our nation, our world.
P.T. Forsythe once said, “The worst sin is prayerlessness. Overt sin or crime or the glaring inconsistencies which often surprise us in Christian people are the affect of prayerlessness or its punishment. We are left by God for lack of seeking Him.”
Samuel identified prayerlessness as sin! It is sin because it is a violation of God’s command. Jesus said: we “…ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The word, “ought” implies moral obligation, a sacred duty. It is then, a responsibility placed upon every Christian by the Lord himself.
Prayerlessness is sin because it denies pleasure to God. The wise man of the Old Testament wrote: “The prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8) Imagine that! God enjoys my praying! Besides all the benefits I derive form praying, God also finds joy! There is another reason why prayerlessness is a sin: it defeats the power of God. Because he was a man of prayer, the Apostle Paul could write: “I am ready for anything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Without a doubt we are commanded to pray. Jesus told His disciples to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8). Paul commanded us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Peter wrote that we are to be self-controlled so that we can pray (1 Peter 4:7). James commanded us to pray for each other (James 5:16). If failing to do something we are commanded to do is sin, then prayerlessness is surely a major sin for believers.
There are some very specific ways to help us move away from this sin and into greater praying. Perhaps the most foundational issue here is that prayerlessness is a declaration that we do not need God. Ronnie Floyd, in his great book, How to Pray, said there are two critical statements about prayer that we must understand: “Prayer occurs when you depend on God” and “Prayerlessness occurs when you depend on yourself.”
Failing to pray is also an indicator of a lack of love for the Lord. Prayer, at its heart, is communicating with God. What does it say to Him when we fail to find time to talk with Him? Do we say by our lack of prayer that we are not at all interested in spending time with the Lord or hearing anything from Him? When we do not pray, we move away from any possibility of intimacy with Christ.
When prayerlessness is prevalent in our lives, we are also guilty of failure to love one another. There is scarcely any greater way to demonstrate love than to pray for someone. In godly intercession, we lift the needs of another to God and watch as He moves to meet needs and provide for the one we are praying for. Through prayer, bodies are healed, families are knit together, individuals are saved, and churches are revived. When we withhold prayer on behalf of others, we demonstrate hardened hearts and a failure to love them enough to bring their needs before a loving Father.
Two Reasons How God Gives His Best When We Pray
#1: God gives us his best when we pursue it actively (Matt 7:7-8)
- All we can do is establish the conditions under which it is natural for God to give us his best. Does one receive without asking; find without seeking; have a door opened without knocking? No! God blesses the pursuit (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, we conclude that God blesses our initiative and effort.
#2: God gives us his best because it is his nature to do so (Matt 7:9-11)
God has a beautiful plan for our lives. His willingness to give us his best is evident: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). He intends for us to ask, seek, and knock with the intent of discovering and submitting to his plan. Prayer is a powerful tool when it is leveraged against outcomes that are pleasing to God.
In Psalm 81, God laments over what might have been. As He ponders the history of Israel, His chosen people, God mourns over what He could have done for them and through them, if only they had obeyed Him. It’s an inscrutable mystery that while God is all-powerful and nothing can thwart His sovereign purpose, at the same time He limits His power and blessing to the obedience of His people. As we join the Lord in observing the wreckage of these wasted lives, the message to us is:
The way to avoid a wasted life is to walk in obedience to the Lord.
Chapter 18 Questions
- Read Matt. 7:7-11. Discuss scripture , share insights from book and notes.
- Pg 135: Discuss Luis Palau’s statement : “ I realized I’d always seen God as One whose expectations I could never meet rather than One who truly desired to bless me. I could think of many reasons why He should never bestow His gifts on me. However ,I began to see that I needed to simply humble myself before the Lord and receive from His kind hand the gracious gift that Christ has earned for me. “. How do you perceive God?
- Pg 135-136: Read the five scriptures and discuss the 5 “True Prayer “ statements?
- Pg 137: Read Psalm 81 : 12-16 and discuss.
- As a group , share recent answers to prayer….how God has blessed you !! We are in the family of God and it is encouraging to hear other answers to prayer!