Matthew 7:7-8 Commentary

 

 

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Seemon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

Click to enlarge
"Sermon on the Mount"
(Bloch)

Matthew 7:7-8 Commentary

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Aiteite, (2PPAM) kai dothesetai (3SFPI) humin; zeteite, (2PPAM) kai euresete; (2PFAI) krouete, (2PPAM) kai anoigesetai (3SFPI) humin.
Amplified: Amplified: Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
NLT: Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: "Ask and it will be given to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks." (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Keep on asking for something to be given and it shall be given you. Keep on seeking, and you shall find. Keep on reverently knocking, and it shall be opened to you.  (
Eerdmans)
Young's: 'Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you;

REFERENCES

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Notes

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask! Seek!! Knock!!!

Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:1-14
Matthew 7:7-11 May I Take Your Order?
Matthew 7:1; 7:3-5; 7:7-11; 7:7-11; 7:12; 7:13f.; 7:15-23; 7:24-27
Matthew 7:7 The Biblical illustrator; Anecdotes, etc...
Matthew Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:1-5; Mt 7:13-14; Mt 7:13-27; Mt 7:13-23; Mt 7:21-23
Matthew 7 Cambridge Commentary
Matthew 7
Matthew Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew Commentary
Matthew Sermon Notes
Matthew 7:1-12 Fatal Failures of Religion
Matthew 7:7-11 Ask God
Matthew 7:1-12 20/20 Vision Matthew 7:13-29
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
The Gospel of Matthew an Exposition
Matthew 7 Commentary

Comments on the Gospel of Matthew
Matthew sermon Notes
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7.1-7; Matthew 7.8-12; Matthew 7.13-23; Matthew 7:24-29
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:7-12

Matthew Commentary

Matthew 7 Commentary - Lange Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:7-12 Start Loving
Matthew 7:1-12 Judging, Asking, and Giving

Matthew 7:7 Our Knocking

Matthew 145 Mp3 Audios - Thru the Bible
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:1-12 Matthew 7:13-28
Matthew 7

Matthew 7:7-12

Matthew 7:7-8;Mt 7:7-8;

Matthew 7:7-12 Ask Your Father in Heaven
Matthew 7:7-12 The Spring of Persistent Public Love

Matthew 7:7-11 Three Levels of Prayer  
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew Commentary
Matthew 7:7f; 7:9f; 7:12

Matthew 7 Word Pictures in the New Testament
Matthew 7 Commentary

Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:1-11

Matthew 6:19-7:11
Matthew 7:7,8 Importance of Efficacy in Prayer

Matthew Sermon Notes; Matthew 7
Study Guide for Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 7 Speaker's Commentary
Matthew 7 Commentary
Matthew 7:7 Knock! - Pdf
Matthew 7:7 Devotional
Matthew Commentary
Matthew 7 Greek Word Studies
Matthew 7 Is Israel Cast Off Forever?
Matthew 7 Doing the Will of the Father
Matthew 7:1-6; Matthew 7:13-23;  Matthew 7:24-29
Inductive Study on Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 7:6-28

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you: Aiteite, (2PPAM) kai dothesetai (3SFPI) humin; zeteite, (2PPAM) kai euresete; (2PFAI) krouete, (2PPAM) kai anoigesetai (3SFPI) humin. (Mt 7:11; 21:22; 1Kings 3:5; Psalms 10:17; 50:15; 86:5; 145:18,19; Isaiah 55:6,7; Jeremiah 29:12,13; 33:3; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9,10,13; 18:1; John 4:10; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24; James 1:5,6; 5:15; 1John 3:22; 5:14,15; Revelation 3:17,18) (Mt 6:33; Psalms 10:4; 27:8; 69:32; 70:4; 105:3,4; 119:12; Proverbs 8:17; Song 3:2; Amos 5:4; Romans 2:7; 3:11; Hebrews 11:6) (Luke 13:25)
 

Artwork related to Mt 7:1: "Jug not that ye be not jugged"
Artwork related to Mt 7:3-5
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The Speck and the Beam

Artwork related to Mt 7:7-11: Pray, and It Shall Be Given

Artwork related to Mt 7:7-11: About Praying

Artwork related to Mt 7:12: Love for Enemies
Artwork related to Mt 7:13,14: The Two Ways

Artwork related to Mt 7:15-23: A Tree and Its Fruit

Artwork related to Mt 7:24-27: The Wise and Foolish Builder
 

See Related Resources on Prayer...

Gems on Prayer by C H Spurgeon
Prayer Resources
Global Prayer Digest Operation World
Praying for Your Missionaries Guide to specific daily prayers:
Prayer for Deeper Understanding - Wayne Barber:
Prayer for Fullness - Wayne Barber

Notes on the "Disciple's Prayer" Matthew 6:9ff
Notes on praying for hope, joy, peace Romans 15:13

Notes on praying for enlightenment, etc Ephesians 1:18, 19, 20
Notes on praying for inner strength Ephesians 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Notes on Paul's "complete" prayer Colossians 1:9, 10, 11, 12ff
Notes on praying when anxious Philippians 4:6, Philippians 4:7

Notes on prayer for loving discernment Philippians 1:9, 10, 11, 12

Notes on praying without ceasing 1Thessalonians 5:17

Spurgeon wrote that...

Faith asks, hope seeks, and love knocks.

***

Here is a three-fold encouragement to us to pray. When we cannot use one style of prayer, let us use another, for each shall be successful at the right time. O child of God, let nothing keep thee from prayer! It has been well said that a Christian may be hedged in, but he cannot be roofed in; there is always a passage way upwards to the throne of the great Father; and asking, knocking, seeking, he shall be sure to be successful with his suit.

***

To men you may not always speak of heavenly things, but to God you may.

“&Ask, seek, knock&”; let your prayer be adapted to the case; let it increase in intensity, let it advance in the largeness of its object. To receive a gift is simple, to find a treasure is more enriching, to enter into a palace is best of all. Each form of prayer is prescribed, accepted, and rewarded in a manner suitable to its character. The promise is universal to all who obey the precept. The commands are in opposition to the methods of carking care which have been denounced in the former chapter; and they are encouragements to the precepts of giving and non-recessional set forth previously, since he that can have of God for the asking may well give to men who ask, and even yield to those who unjustly demand. With such boundless stores at command, we should not be either niggardly or litigious. Lord, help me to have done with fretting, and to abound in asking, seeking, knocking; so shall I soon overflow with thanksgiving.

Kent Hughes gives an important caveat regarding this well known verse warning that...

 The instruction in this text should not be lifted from its context (Ed note" see importance of context in accurate interpretation and valid application) in the Sermon and abused. All of us have heard this done. "The Bible says, 'Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.' Therefore, all we have to do is ask for it with faith and persistence, and we will get it. 'You do not have because you do not ask' (James 4:2). So go for it! Name it and claim it!" This view sees God as a celestial slot machine. Pull the handle enough times in prayer, be persistent, and you will get what you want! Such thinking is entirely wrong! A text without a context is a pretext. Isolating this text from its setting in the Sermon on the Mount is deadly. The broad context of the Sermon sets down the surpassing righteousness, humility, sincerity, purity, and love expected of those who are members of the kingdom of God. These virtues are beyond human attainment apart from God's grace. The broad context underscores our need. In the immediately preceding context (vv. 1-6) Jesus has shown us the danger of condemning other people as if we were judges. He also has told us to get the plank out of our own eye before we attempt to remove a speck from someone else's. His warning is, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (v. 2). This standard is terrifying. Who is adequate for such things? How can we live up to such a high standard? We need to be cleansed. We need help and grace, but from where? Jesus answers, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (v. 7). This famous text is not carte blanche for our material desires. Rather, it tells us how to pray for the character of the kingdom in our lives. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books) (Bolding added)

Ray Pritchard feels that...

There are at least three things that hinder us from going deeper in prayer. The first is the sneaking suspicion that prayer doesn’t matter. It’s easy to fall into a kind of fatalism that says “God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.” So we stop praying because we think nothing will change. Then there is the fear that we won’t pray in the “right” way, that we won’t use the correct words or we won’t use the right formula and that God therefore won’t even bother to hear what we say. Finally most of us struggle with the little voice inside that tells us we’ve got more important things to do. Prayer is good but we need to get on with the “real business” of the day. So we don’t pray as we ought or as we would like.  (Matthew 7:7-11 Three Levels of Prayer)

Ask (154) (aiteo) means to ask for with urgency, even to the point of demanding. Aiteo more frequently suggests attitude of a suppliant (one who supplicates [supplicate is from Latin supplex = bowed] means to makes a humble, earnest plea or entreaty), the petitioning of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made. To ask means to to call on for an answer, which indicates that we believe there is someone (our Father) listening. It also implies that we expect Him to answer or otherwise why ask? The self-righteous person does not ask but tells God how good he is (see parable Luke 18:10, 11, 12, 13).

Ask is present imperative = Keep on asking. Make this the pattern of your life, a continual act of devotion. Jesus calls us to be "Coram Deo" before the face of God. In His presence in His throne room continually.

Aiteo - 70x in 67v - Matt 5:42; 6:8; 7:7ff; 14:7; 18:19; 20:20, 22; 21:22; 27:20, 58; Mark 6:22ff; 10:35, 38; 11:24; 15:8, 43; Luke 1:63; 6:30; 11:9ff; 12:48; 23:23, 25, 52; John 4:9f; 11:22; 14:13f; 15:7, 16; 16:23f, 26; Acts 3:2, 14; 7:46; 9:2; 12:20; 13:21, 28; 16:29; 25:3, 15; 1 Cor 1:22; Eph 3:13, 20; Col 1:9; Jas 1:5f; 4:2f; 1 Pet 3:15; 1 John 3:22; 5:14, 15, 16. NAS =  ask(36), asked(16), asking(7), asks(7), beg(1), called(1), making a request(1), requesting(1).

Spurgeon in his book Power in Prayer notes that...

It may be a revealing exercise for some of you to find out how often in Scripture you are told to pray. You will be surprised to find how many times such words as these are given: “&Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee&” (&Psalm 50:15-note). “&Ye people, pour out your heart before Him&” (&Psalm 62:8-note&). “&Seek ye the LORD while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near&” (&Isaiah 55:6&). “&Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you&” (&Mt 7:7-note&). “&Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation&” (&Mark 14:38&). “&Pray without ceasing&” (1The 5:12-note&). “&Come boldly unto the throne of grace&” (He 4:16-note&). “&Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you&” (&James 4:8-note&). “&Continue in prayer&” (Col 4:2-note&). I need not multiply what I could not possibly exhaust. I pick two or three out of this great bag of pearls.

Asking is what beggars do and that is exactly what those who are "poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3-note) are! In poor countries beggars unashamedly stand by the road with their hands held out, asking alms for the poor. Sometimes they can be quite bold about it and even irritating to passers by. In those moments it helps to remember that you would be bold too if you were in their position. And in a spiritual sense we are in their position for we have brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out. We are totally dependent on God the Father of lights from Whom every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift comes (cf James 1:17). But unlike beggars on the streets, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven have access through Jesus to our Father Who art in heaven!

Jesus has already explained that in His omniscience, our...

Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. (Mt 6:8-note)

By asking we nurture our relationship with our Father. He delights to hear and to answer His children as Jesus explains in the following verses.

We need to be more like apostle James of whom Eusebius wrote that his...

knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for the people.

Edward Payson said

Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to minister. Pray, therefore, my dear brother, pray, pray, pray.”&

Seek (2212) (zeteo) means to attempt to learn something by careful investigation or searching,  to desire to have or experience something or to try to obtain something from someone. Seeking is asking plus acting, implying earnest petitioning coupled with an active endeavoring to fulfill needs. When you seek something, you rearrange your priorities so that you can search for what you desire until you find it. Do you prioritize prayer?

Zeteo - 117x in 114v - Matt 2:13, 20; 6:33; 7:7f; 12:43, 46f; 13:45; 18:12; 21:46; 26:16, 59; 28:5; Mark 1:37; 3:32; 8:11f; 11:18; 12:12; 14:1, 11, 55; 16:6; Luke 2:48f; 5:18; 6:19; 9:9; 11:9f, 16, 24, 29; 12:29, 31, 48; 13:6f, 24; 15:8; 17:33; 19:3, 10, 47; 20:19; 22:2, 6; 24:5; John 1:38; 4:23, 27; 5:18, 30, 44; 6:24, 26; 7:1, 4, 11, 18ff, 25, 30, 34, 36; 8:21, 37, 40, 50; 10:39; 11:8, 56; 13:33; 16:19; 18:4, 7f; 19:12; 20:15; Acts 9:11; 10:19, 21; 13:8, 11; 16:10; 17:5, 27; 21:31; 27:30; Rom 2:7; 10:3, 20; 11:3; 1 Cor 1:22; 4:2; 7:27; 10:24, 33; 13:5; 14:12; 2 Cor 12:14; 13:3; Gal 1:10; 2:17; Phil 2:21; Col 3:1; 1 Thess 2:6; 2 Tim 1:17; Heb 8:7; 1 Pet 3:11; 5:8; Rev 9:6. NAS = deliberating(1), demanding(1), inquire(1), looking(11), made efforts(1), search(4), searched(1), seek(36), seek after(1), seeking(35), seeks(9), sought(4), striving(1), tried(1), trying(6), kept trying to obtain(2).

Seeking implies a desire for something of great value. A good illustration of this is Jesus' analogy that...

the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Mt 13:45-46)

Or think about Jesus’ story of the woman searching for a lost coin...

"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?' (Luke 15:8)

or the shepherd with 100 sheep who, having lost one, left the 99 and went searching for the one sheep that had gone astray. It is like a man seeking a pearl of great price, who having found it, gives all that he has in order to purchase it.

Puritan Thomas Manton wrote that "If we don’t receive by asking, then let us seek; if we don’t receive by seeking, then let us knock."

Spurgeon notes that...

This is the simplest form of prayer. Follow up your prayer by the effort. “&Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.&” Add force to your petitions and to your prayers. If the door blocks the way, knock until it is opened...

Prayer knocks till the door opens. Open it will, for so runs the promise of our faithful God, "To him that knocketh it shall be opened." "If the angel opened the door of the prison to let Peter out, it was prayer that opened the door of heaven to let the angel out."

Knock (2925) (krouo) means to rap at a door for entrance and thus implies an even greater and more repetitive intensity than either asking or seeking. The English word "knock" comes from German word meaning to press! “Knock” means to stand at a door and repeatedly rap it with your knuckles. You knock and wait, then you knock again, then you say, “I know you’re in there,” then you knock again and say, “I can hear your voice. Come on, open the door.” Then you knock again. If you’re on the other side, you know how annoying it can be to listen as someone knocks and knocks and keeps on knocking. But that’s precisely the picture behind Jesus' command to keep on knocking! The idea might imply praying in the face of difficulty and even resistance. If you knock like this, your desire for entrance must be very great indeed.

Note the ascending degree of intensity from asking then to seeking and finally to overtly knocking! Each of these verbs is in the present imperative, which is a command to do each of these activities continually. Jesus is calling for persistence in prayer. Prayer is as necessary to us as oxygen to our life. Prayer is the lifeline for citizens of the Kingdom of heaven who are still on earth and as such it expresses our continued dependence on Him as we beseech Him for the grace and power to live the supernatural life of surpassing righteousness that Jesus has described in this Sermon. In order to live out the righteousness we must ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking and knock and keep knocking.

Krouo - 9x in 9v - Matt 7:7f; Luke 11:9f; 12:36; 13:25; Acts 12:13, 16; Rev 3:20.

Will be opened (455) (anoigo from ana = again + oigo = to open) means to open and give access to. To open one's eyes causing them to see (Acts 26:18). To open one's mouth that they might begin to speak (Mt 5:2). Figuratively, to open a "door" meaning to make possible (Col 4:3).

Anoigo - 77x in 75v - Matt 2:11; 3:16; 5:2; 7:7f; 9:30; 13:35; 17:27; 20:33; 25:11; 27:52; Mark 7:35; Luke 1:64; 3:21; 11:9f; 12:36; 13:25; John 1:51; 9:10, 14, 17, 21, 26, 30, 32; 10:3, 21; 11:37; Acts 5:19, 23; 8:32, 35; 9:8, 40; 10:11, 34; 12:10, 14, 16; 14:27; 16:26f; 18:14; 26:18; Rom 3:13; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; 6:11; Col 4:3; Rev 3:7f, 20; 4:1; 5:2ff, 9; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1; 9:2; 10:2, 8; 11:19; 12:16; 13:6; 15:5; 19:11; 20:12. NAS = break(1), broke(7), open(22), opened(41), opening(2), opens(4), spoken freely(1).

Spurgeon wrote that...

There was a nailhead for the knocker to drop on, and people used to smite it so heavily that some remarked that such blows on the head were killing. Hence arose the mirthful proverb, "as dead as a doornail." It betokens a hearty kind of knocking, which I would have you imitate in prayer. Knock at heaven's gate as ear­nestly as people knocked at doors in the olden time

Hughes observes that...

Ask implies asking for a conscious need. The word also suggests humility in asking, for it is commonly used of one asking a superior. The next step, seek, involves asking but adds action. The idea is not merely to express one's need, but to get up and look around for help. It involves effort. Knock includes asking plus acting plus persevering - like someone who keeps pounding on a closed door!

The stacking of these words is extremely forceful, but the fact that they are present imperatives gives them even more punch... Jesus is driving his point home, and the point is this: We are to passionately persist in prayer. We naturally persevere in our prayers when someone close to us is sick. If one of our children becomes ill, we pray without ceasing. Likewise, if we are in financial trouble or if we are hoping for a promotion or if we have a frightening or dangerous task ahead of us, we generally find it easy to pray. But do we persist in our prayers for spiritual growth for ourselves and others? Do we "ask . . . seek . . . knock" for a pure mind? Do we keep on knocking for a forgiving spirit or for the removal of an angry or critical spirit? (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books) (Bolding added)

Keep in mind that this charge to a lifestyle of prayer is situated at the end of the description of a kingdom citizen that began in Matthew 5:20 (note) and immediately precedes Jesus' call to enter the narrow gate, the gate of divine righteousness (ultimately the righteousness of Christ Himself, cp 1 Cor 1:30) that surpasses that of the man-made righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Supernatural righteousness is not reckoned on the basis of works but only on the basis of faith in the finished work of the Messiah on the Cross. But to continue to live this righteousness in our daily walk necessitates faith and continued dependence upon God's grace and His Spirit. In this context Jesus inserts this powerful command to persistent prayer that is to be part of the righteous lifestyle of Kingdom citizens and is fact critical for us to be enabled to continually walk worthy of the gospel to which we were called. Jesus is not saying prayer is an after thought but in fact is to be our first thought and our continual thought.

William MacDonald agrees with this analysis writing that...

If we think that we can live out the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount by our own strength, we have failed to realize the supernatural character of the life to which the Savior calls us. The wisdom or power for such a life must be given to us from above. So here we have an invitation to ask and keep on asking; to seek and keep on seeking; to knock and keep on knocking. Wisdom and power for the Christian life will be given to all who earnestly and persistently pray for it.  Taken out of context (Ed note: see critical role of context in accurate interpretation), verses 7 and 8 might seem like a blank check for believers, i.e., we can get anything we ask for. But this is simply not true. The verses must be understood in their immediate context and in light of the whole Bible’s teaching on prayer. Therefore, what seems like unqualified promises here are actually restricted by other passages. For example, from Psalm 66:18 we learn that the person praying must have no unconfessed sin in his life. The Christian must pray in faith (Ja. 1:6-8) and in conformity with the will of God (1Jn. 5:14). Prayer must be offered persistently (Luke 18:1-8) and sincerely (Heb 10:22a) (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson) (Bolding added)

Phil Newton explains it this way...

How often have we heard the command of verse 7 to be a carte blanche confirmation to ask God for anything we desire? It seems that this is most often the application of the well-known asking, seeking, knocking command of prayer. But I would insist that this is an improper use of this prayer. In this Sermon we do not have a string of random thoughts and sayings of Jesus collated by Matthew into a single literary format – which would legitimize carte blanche use of this command. Instead we have a consistent picture of the character and demands upon kingdom citizens. The command to pray in verse 7 has everything to do with fulfilling kingdom demands....

(Jesus) is calling for a lifestyle of persistent prayer. That stands in sharp contrast to the flash-in-the-pan style of Christianity so popular in our day that calls for nothing but a profession (and maybe baptism) and lacks perseverance. Kingdom citizens persist in desiring that the character, ambitions, attitudes, and behavior that Jesus called for be shown consistently in our lives. Yet we realize how impossible this is given our weaknesses, our propensity for sin, and our lack of power to obey (we have not forgotten the first Beatitude – “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”). So our Lord tells us to call upon the God of the impossible! In other words, what Jesus has commanded in attitude, ambition, behavior, and deed cannot be done apart from persistent, ongoing, regular, faithful prayer. You can attend dozens of seminars on Christian living, participate in discipleship groups, and read all the good books on the subject including the Puritans. But if you are not regular in praying about your own spiritual needs and development, and persistently looking to the Lord for grace to follow Christ, then you will be sorely lacking in the practice of kingdom citizenship.

Persistent prayer does at least three things in our lives.

First, it reminds us of our weakness apart from God’s grace. If we ever get away from this we are destined for a great fall.

“Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor 10:12 – and that stated in the context of temptation).

We are reminded of our inadequacies in the face of Christ’s demands. We think upon the desperate condition of our hearts, and our helplessness to stand against the “schemes of the devil” that are daily aimed our way (see note Ephesians 6:11). As we are honest before the Lord we come face to face with our sinfulness, and desperate need for the gospel to be daily applied to our lives.

Second, it reminds us to look to God as our Father. Perhaps nothing is more lacking in our lives than this very thing. We know the confessions, creeds, and hymns that affirm that God is our Father. But do we look to Him persistently as our Father that loves and cherishes us? Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented,

If you should ask me to state in one phrase what I regard as the greatest defect in most Christian lives I would say that it is our failure to know God as our Father as we should know Him” [The Sermon on the Mount, II, 202].

And I would add, the most prominent reason for this defect is our neglect and inconsistency in prayer. In effect, by neglecting prayer, we treat God as a casual friend and not as “Our Father who is in heaven” (6:9). Yet the Father promises to “give what is good to those who ask Him!”

Third, it disciplines and humbles us to receive the Father’s gracious provisions so that we might live as kingdom citizens. We are affected by dispositions of heart and the influences around us. So often we think that we have the “stuff” to do whatever God commands if we make our mind up to do it. And so we get a bit cocky and arrogant, while growing in self-centeredness as the natural course of human existence. We are also influenced by what we see and hear in the world to be selfish. But prayer brings us back to reality: we are inadequate in ourselves to live the Christian life apart from God’s grace. So we ask and go on asking, seek and go on seeking, and knock and go on knocking so that we might receive from the Father what we need to live like kingdom citizens. And in persistent prayer the Lord develops in us a dependency and submission to Him. (
Matthew 7:7-12 Prayer and Practice) (Bolding added)

The Disciple's Study Bible comments that...

Asking suggests dependence; seeking suggests yearning; knocking suggests persistence. Jesus wanted to encourage faith. These verses should not be applied out of the context of the Sermon on the Mount; they are intended for those asking within the "narrow gate'' of Jesus' followers. Prayer is to accomplish God's purposes. (Disciple's Study Bible)

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary offers another explanation for Jesus' introduction of prayer at this point. This explanation addresses the more immediate context of necessary judging (but by no means excludes need for prayer brought out by interpreting it in the larger context discussed above)...

(these) verses on prayer (cf. Lk 11:9-13) answer the believer’s problems arising from the instructions on judging. The need of discerning between dogs and swine while avoiding the beam in the eye demands wisdom from above. Hence Jesus encourages his followers to ask, seek, and knock, that their deficiencies may be met from the divine supply. The three imperatives are in climactic order, and their durative forms suggest not only perseverance but frequent prayer for any and all needs. (Wycliffe Commentary)

Arthur Pink has a well reasoned explanation of why Jesus mentions prayer at this point and note that his analysis also relies heavily on the context...

What has been suggested above concerning the scope of our present passage will be the more apparent by viewing it in relation to its whole context. From Mt 5:20, onwards, Christ had presented a standard of moral excellence which is utterly unattainable by mere flesh and blood. He had inculcated one requirement after another, which it lies not in the power of fallen human nature to meet. He had forbidden an opprobrious word, a malignant wish, an impure desire, a revengeful thought. He had enjoined the most unsparing mortification of our dearest members (Mt 5:29, 5:30). He had commanded the loving of our enemies, the blessing of those who curse us, the doing good unto those who hate us, and the praying for those who despitefully use and persecute us (Mt 5:44). In view of which the Christian may well exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Such demands of holiness are beyond my feeble strength: yet the Lord has made them—what then am I to do?

Coming nearer still to our passage we find that in the opening verses of chapter 7 Christ gave two apparently contradictory commands. First, He says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged:” abstain from forming harsh estimates and passing censorious censures on your fellows. Second, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs:” discriminate sharply between the clean and the unclean, that you may not be guilty of obliterating the line which God has drawn between the righteous and the wicked. But to steer safely between such rocks as these requires not only spiritual strength but spiritual wisdom, such wisdom as the natural man possesses not. What then is the poor believer to do? The Lord here anticipates this difficulty and meets this perplexity. He is well aware that, in our own wisdom and strength, we are incapable of keeping His commands, but He at once reminds us that the things which are ordinarily impossible to men can be made possible to them by God.

(Ed note: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6)

Divine assistance is imperative if we are to meet the Divine requirements. The Divine assistance is to be sought prayerfully, believingly, diligently and persistently, and if it be thus sought it will not be sought in vain. It was then for the obtaining of supplies of Divine grace and heavenly strength that our Lord now exhorted and encouraged His disciples. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mt 7:7).

In the foregoing chapter Christ had touched upon the subject of prayer in a way of warning, but here He refers to it as the appointed channel for obtaining supplies of grace to obey those precepts which are so contrary to flesh and blood. First He had given instructions concerning the duty of prayer, but now He supplies gracious encouragements for the exercise of it. Nevertheless, it is clear from the general tenor of scripture that every other legitimate means must be employed if we are to obtain the strength and help we so much need. (Matthew 7:7-8: Seeking Grace)


Spurgeon
in his sermon Knock writes...

I Have no doubt that, taken very strictly, the three exhortations of this verse-which, indeed, are but one-were first of alt intended for God’s believing people. It was to his disciples that the Lord said, “&Cast not your pearls before swine;&” and perhaps certain of them who were poor in spirit might turn round and say, “&Lord, we have few pearls; we are too poor to have the treasures of thy grace so plentifully. Thou hast bidden us not to give that which is holy unto dogs; but holiness is rather a thing we seek after than possess.&” “&Well,&” saith the Lord, “&you have only to ask and have; ye have not because ye ask not; you have only to seek and you will be sure to find, for holy things, like rare pearls, are to be discovered if you look for them you have only to knock and spiritual secrets shall open to you, even the innermost truth of God.&” In each exhortation our Lord bids us pray. Beloved, let us abound in supplication. depend upon it that failure in prayer will undermine the foundation of our peace and sap the strength of our confidence; but if we abound in pleading with God we shall grow strong in the Lord, and we shall be happy in his love, we shall become a blessing to those around us. Need I commend the mercy-seat to you who wait before it? Surely prayer must have become such a joy to you, such a necessity of your being, such an element of your life, that I hardly need press it upon you as a duty, or invite you to it as a privilege. Yet still I do so, because the Master does it by a triple exhortation. A threefold cord is not easily broken-let not my text be neglected by you. Let me urge you to repeated, varied, ever intensifying prayer: ask! seek! knock! Cease not to ask till you receive; cease nor to seek till you find; cease not to knock till the door is opened unto you.

In these three exhortations there would appear to be a gradation: it is the same thought put into another shape, and made more forcible.

Ask-that is, in the quiet of your spirit, speak with God concerning your need, and humbly beg him to grant your desires: this is a good and acceptable form of prayer.

If, however, asking should not appear to succeed, the Lord would arouse you to a more concentrated and active longing; therefore let your desires call in the aid of knowledge, thought, consideration, meditation, and practical action, and learn to seek for the blessings you desire as men seek for hid treasures. These good things are laid up in store, and they are accessible to fervent minds. See how you can reach them. Add to asking the study of the promises of God, a diligent hearing of his word, a devout meditation upon the way of salvation, and all such means of grace as may bring you the blessing. Advance from king into seeking.

And if after all it should still seem that you have not obtained your desire, then knock and so come to closer and more agonizing work; use not alone the voice, but the whole soul; exercise yourself unto godliness to obtain the boon; use every effort to win that which you seek after; for remember that doing is praying; living to God is a high form of seeking, and the bent of the entire mind is knocking. God often giveth to his people when they keep his commandments that which he denies to them if they walk carelessly.

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he 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.&”

Holiness is essential to power in prayer: the life must knock while the lips ask and the heart seeks.

I will change my line of exposition and say: ask as a beggar petitions for aims. They say that begging is a poor trade, but when you ply it well with God no other trade is so profitable. Men get more by asking than by working without prayer. Though I do not discommend working, yet I most highly commend praying. Nothing under heaven pays like prevailing prayer. He that has power in prayer has all things at his call. Ask as a poor mendicant who is hungry and pleads for bread. Then seek as a merchant who hunts for goodly pearls, looking up and down, anxious to give all that he has that he may win a matchless treasure.

Seek as a servant carefully looking after his master’s interests and laboring to promote them. Seek with all diligence, adding to the earnestness of the beggar the careful watchfulness of the jeweler who is seeking for a gem.

Conclude all by knocking at mercy’s door as a lost traveler caught out on a cold night in a blinding sleet knocks for shelter that he may not perish in the storm. When you have reached the gate of salvation ask to be admitted by the great love of God, then look well to see the way of entering, seeking to enter in; and if still the door seem shut against you, knock right heavily, and continue knocking till you are safely lodged within the home of love.

Once again, ask for what you want, seek for what you have lost, knock for that from which you are excluded.

Perhaps this last arrangement best indicates the shades of meaning, and brings out the distinctions.

Ask for everything you need, whatever it may be: if it be a right and good thing, it is promised to the sincere asker.

Seek for what you have lost; for what Adam lost you by the Fall, for what you have lost yourself by your neglect, by your backsliding, by your want of prayer: seek till you find the grace you need.

Then knock. If you seem shut out from comfort, from knowledge, from hope, from God, from heaven, then knock, for the Lord will open unto you. Here you need the Lord’s own interference: you can ask and receive, you can seek and find; but you cannot knock and open,-the Lord must himself open the door, or you are shut out for ever.

God is ready to open the door. Remember, there is no cherub with fiery sword to guard this gate, but, on the contrary, the Lord Jesus himself openeth, and no man shutteth. (Read the full text Matthew 7:7 Knock! - Pdf)

D A Carson comments on why prayer is mentioned at this point in the Sermon explaining that...

the Sermon on the Mount lays down the righteousness, sincerity, humility, purity, and love expected of Jesus' followers; and now it assures them such gifts are theirs if sought through prayer.

The sermon has begun with acknowledgment of personal bankruptcy (notes
Matthew 5:3) and has already provided a model prayer (notes Mt 6:9-10, 6:11-12, 6:13). Now (Mt 7:7) in three imperatives (ask, seek, knock) symmetrically repeated (Mt 7:8) and in the present tense to stress the persistence and sincerity required (cf. Jer 29:13 God to Judah "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."), Jesus assures His followers that, far from demanding the impossible, He is providing the means for the otherwise impossible.

"One may be a truly industrious man, and yet poor in temporal things; but one cannot be a truly praying man, and yet poor in spiritual things" (Broadus).

Far too often Christians do not have the marks of richly textured discipleship because they do not ask, or they ask with selfish motives (James 4:2-3). But the best gifts, those advocated by the Sermon on the Mount, are available to "everyone" (Mt 7:8) who persistently asks, seeks, and knocks.

Jesus' disciples will pray ("ask") with earnest sincerity ("seek") and active, diligent pursuit of God's way ("knock"). Like a human father, the heavenly Father uses these means to teach his children courtesy, persistence, and diligence. If the child prevails with a thoughtful father, it is because the father has molded the child to his way. If Jacob prevails with God, it is Jacob who is wounded (Gen 32:22-32). (
Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)

Dwight Pentecost has a slightly different thought on Jesus' insertion of prayer at this time explaining that...

The Lord taught that righteousness manifests itself in prayer. Prayer is perhaps the greatest manifestation of faith a child of God can demonstrate. In praying we address words to a God we cannot see but we believe exists. We are one among multitudes who are praying, yet we believe God singles out our petition and hears it specifically. We believe God is not alienated from His creation and is able to move in answer to our prayers. The very act of praying is based upon faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

When a man approaches God in prayer, he must approach with a settled conviction that he believes God actually lives. It would be foolish to address prayer to God if God is so removed from His creatures that He cannot move in their lives. A man must believe that God rewards them that seek Him. It would be utter foolishness to address prayer to God if we were convinced He could not hear...A man who prays even once manifests faith; but the man who patiently endures in his praying gives evidence to God and man of the genuineness of his faith. Our Lord said this persistent prayer is a demonstration of righteousness...

Every delay in prayer is a test of a man’s righteousness. Will he give up? Will he become discouraged? Or will he persist in prayer? Prayer that ceases before the need is met is not prayer offered in faith. The evidence of the genuineness of faith is that it persists...

Few have difficulty turning to God in prayer in life’s big emergencies....The proof of righteousness is that a man calls on God in the little things. The son in the Lord’s illustration asked his father for a noon meal. The child of God can transform his life by making Jesus Christ a partner in the little things of the day. Pray over the humdrum, the routine, and make Him a partner. When you go to the office and do what you have done a thousand times over, you can escape boredom by making Jesus Christ a partner. This will transform the mundane into something satisfying. When our Lord said, “Keep on asking,” He was not only talking about the crises of life, He was also talking about the little things in life... No matter what you are doing, take it to the Lord in prayer. When we pray, we intercede for the crisis. How little praying there is about the ordinary matters! Do you want to be righteous? Do you want to realize and demonstrate the righteousness acceptable to God? Then listen to what our Lord said: “Keep on praying.” Make Christ a partner in every detail of life. (Pentecost, J. D. Design for living: Lessons in Holiness from the Sermon on the Mount. Kregel Publications)

There Is an Eye that Never Sleeps
by James Cowden Wallace

There is an eye that never sleeps
Beneath the wing of night;
There is an ear that never shuts,
When sink the beams of light

There is an arm that never tires,
When human strength gives way.
There is a love that never fails,
When earthly loves decay.

But there’s a pow’r which man can wield,
When mortal aid is vain,
That eye, that arm, that love to reach
That list’ning ear to gain.

That pow’r is prayer, which soars on high,
Through Jesus, to the throne;
And moves the hand that moves the sky,
A blessing to bring down.

In Morning and Evening Spurgeon wrote...

We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy’s door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

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Thomas Kelley described how we can continually be asking, seeking, knocking...

There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we can be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.&& (Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion New York: Harper, 1941)

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In his famous book Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan described prayer this way...

About the midst of this valley I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the wayside. Now thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises (things that cared not for Christian’s sword, as did Apollyon before), that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called “All-Prayer.”

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In the classic The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence explained "all-prayer" this way...

The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees. (Would it be we would all be is such constant, clear communion with the throne of grace!)

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John Wesley was described as one whose...

heart is ever lifted up to God, at all times and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts; he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed upon Him, and everywhere “seeing Him that is invisible.” (Ed: like Moses - see note Hebrews 11:27) (John Wesley, Works. Zondervan, 1959)

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A Praying Father - A minister concluded his sermon one Sunday by saying, "If there's someone here who wants help in getting to know God, and you would like me to pray for you, please raise your hand." A young man stood up and said, "Please pray for me, sir. The burden of my sin is too heavy to bear."

After the service, the minister talked with the man and led him to faith in Jesus. The young man had been wandering around the country for 8 years without contacting his parents, so he decided to write to them and tell them about the change in his life.

Several days later, a reply came from his mother: "My dear son, you must have accepted Jesus Christ at the same hour your father went home to heaven. He had been sick for a long time, and that day he was very restless. He tossed from side to side on his bed, crying out, 'Lord, please save my poor, wandering boy.' I'm sure that one of the reasons you became a Christian was Dad's unceasing intercession."

A praying father will "ask," "seek," and "knock" in behalf of his children, persistently trusting his wise heavenly Father to do what is best (Matthew 7:7-11).

Let's thank God today for faithful fathers who never stop praying for their children. —Henry G. Bosch (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

We thank You, Lord, for fathers true
Who always spoke to us of You;
Their great concern and tender care
Assured us of their constant prayer. —Bosch

A praying father reflects the love of our heavenly Father.

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Prayer Malfunction - In a box of my father's old tools I found a hand drill that was at least 60 years old. I could barely get the wheel to turn. The gears were clogged with dirt, and the pieces that hold the drill bit in place were missing. But I wanted to see if I could get it to work.

I began by wiping the accumulated dirt and sawdust off the gears. Then I oiled them. At first they turned hard and slow, but I kept working them. Soon the gears were turning smoothly. Then I saw a cap at the top of the handle. Unscrewing it, I discovered the missing parts that would hold the bit in place. I placed them in the drill, inserted a bit, and easily bored a neat hole in a piece of wood.

Working with that old drill taught me something about prayer. Jesus said we will receive from God what we ask of Him (Matthew 7:7-8). But there are conditions. For example, John said we must obey God and do what pleases Him (1 John 3:22). This includes believing in His Son and loving one another (1 John 3:23). If we don't meet God's conditions, our prayers will be ineffective—just like that old drill.

If your prayer-life is malfunctioning, make sure you're meeting the conditions. When you do, you can be confident that your prayers will be effective. —David C. Egner (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Forgive us, Lord, our selfish asking,
All that's petty in Your sight;
Oh, help us pray with godly motives
And to seek what's good and right! —D. De Haan

Faith and love are vital to effective prayer.

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J R Miller (Who Is He?) has the following devotional...

Ask, and it shall be given you. - Matthew 7:7

Jesus was never troubled with the question, "How can God answer prayer?"

He lived with God all the days and talked with Him as freely as a child ever talked with its parents. He assures us that God is willing to give us whatever we need. We have only to ask for it. Of course our asking must be sincere and must be earnest. If the thing we ask for does not come, we are to seek for it. If we cannot find it, we are to knock.

We need never be afraid that God will mock us by giving us something else in place of what we ask. If we need bread, He will not give us a stone instead. That is the way this world answers many of our desires. Earthly fathers are kind to their children; will God be less kind?

Our lives must be judged by their fruits, by the way we live, by our character and disposition. Christ does not care for our words of praise if we are not proving our love for Him by doing His will.

 

Matthew 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: pas gar o aiton (PAPMSN) lambanei (3SPAI) kai o zeton (PAPMSN) euriskei (3SPAI) kai to krouonti (PAPMSD) anoigesetai. (3SFPI)
Amplified: For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
NLT: For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks." (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest:  For everyone who keeps on asking for something to be given, keeps on receiving. And he who keeps on seeking, keeps on finding. And to him who keeps on reverently knocking, it shall be opened.  (
Eerdmans)
Young's: for every one who is asking doth receive, and he who is seeking doth find, and to him who is knocking it shall be opened.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened: pas gar o aiton (PAPMSN) lambanei (3SPAI) kai o zeton (PAPMSN) euriskei (3SPAI) kai to krouonti (PAPMSD) anoigesetai. (3SFPI) (Mt 15:22-28; 2 Chronicles 33:1,2,19; Psalms 81:10,16; John 2:2; 3:8-10; Luke 23:42,43; Acts 9:11)

&Everyone who asks receives... - Jesus attaches this motivating promise to persistent (powerful) prevailing prayer. The ancient preacher Chrysostom (his name means “golden-mouthed”) described the power of prevailing prayer this way...

The potency of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, it has bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the fates of heaven, assuaged diseases, dispelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. There is (in it) an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings! (Ed: Beloved do I really believe this? Better yet do I really believe what Jesus promises to those who ask, seek and knock? My (and your) answer to this question will not be evidenced by a simple "yes" or "no" but by the "calluses (or lack of) on our knees" so to speak!)

It is important to reiterate that all there "prayer verbs" are in the present tense which pictures our prayer life as just that -- a lifestyle of prayer. Lord, teach us and enable us by Thy Spirit to pray as our lifestyle, a lifestyle that is exhibits continual dependence on and communication with the Living God of the universe. Amen.

Asks...seeks...knocks - Regarding this section Spurgeon draws an interesting conclusion in his book Power in Prayer...

 Until God had said that word or a word to that effect (Asks...seeks...knocks...receives...finds...opened), it was at His own option to hear prayer or not, but it is not so now. For now, if it is true prayer offered through Jesus Christ, His truth binds Him to hear it. A man may be perfectly free, but the moment he makes a promise, he is not free to break it; and the everlasting God does not want to break His promise. He delights to fulfill it. He has declared that all His promises are “&yea&” and “&amen&” (&2 Cor. 1:20&) in Christ Jesus. For our consolation, when we survey God under the high and awesome aspect of His sovereignty, we have this to reflect on: He is under covenant bonds of promise to be faithful to the souls that seek Him. His throne must be a throne of grace to His people.

Once more, and the sweetest thought of all, every covenant promise has been endorsed and sealed with blood, and far be it from the everlasting God to pour scorn upon the blood of His dear Son. When a king has given a charter to a city, he may have been absolute before, and there may have been nothing to check his prerogatives; however, when the city has its charter, then it pleads its rights before the king.

Even thus, God has given to His people a charter of untold blessings, bestowing upon them the sure mercies of David. Very much of the validity of a charter depends on the signature and the seal, and, my friends, how sure is the charter of covenant grace! The signature is the handwriting of God Himself, and the seal is the blood of the Only Begotten. The covenant is ratified with blood, the blood of His own dear Son. It is not possible that we can plead in vain with God when we plead the blood-sealed covenant, ordered in all things and sure. “&Heaven and earth shall pass away&” (&Matt. 24:35&), but the power of the blood of Jesus can never fail with God. It speaks when we are silent, and it prevails when we are defeated. “&Better things than that of Abel&” (&see note Hebrews 12:24) does it ask for, and its cry is heard. Let us come boldly, for we bear the promise in our hearts. When we feel alarmed because of the sovereignty of God, let us cheerfully sing:

The gospel bears my spirit up,
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope
In oaths, and promises, and blood.

May God the Holy Spirit help us to use rightly from this time forward “&the throne of grace.&” Amen. (from Power in Prayer)

Spurgeon writes regarding receives...finds...opened...

&This is the rule of God’s kingdom invariably, whenever the request is a right one, and is presented in a right manner.

Ask the people of God whether it is not so. Go among them, and question them upon this matter. They know the power of prayer, so let them tell you whether they have been deceived or not. Well, then, as it has been so with them, let this encourage you to expect that it shall be the same with you also.

One way or another you will get the blessing if you are but persevering, and blessed is the man who is a master of the art of asking, but does not forget the labor of seeking an entrance through the importunity of knocking.

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Claim What is Yours - For more than 40 years, Ace Pawn Shop had been a fixture on West Main Street in my hometown. Now it was closing. Fred and Lydia Fischer had run the shop as a `mom and pop' operation, and when Fred died, Lydia found that she couldn't go on alone. Rather than sell the business, she decided to close shop and move south. As a final gesture of appreciation to the customers who had made life so good for them, Lydia sent a card to everyone who had an item in pawn and offered it back free of charge. The sign in the window told the story: `Pawn Shop Closing: Claim What Is Yours" (David Grubbs, Claim What Is Yours).

God has invited all believers in Christ to claim what is ours, and the Sermon on the Mount lists a number of these wonderful gifts: the kingdom of heaven (salvation), comfort in mourning, the prospect of inheriting the earth, spiritual fulfillment, mercy, fellowship with God, adoption into God's family, and an eternal home in heaven. When we begin to feel spiritually poor, it's time to ask, seek, and knock. Before another day passes, we can, by faith, "claim what is ours." —D. C. Egner  (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
 

He possesses all who knows the Creator of all.
 

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HAVE YOU PRAYED IT THROUGH?
by William Poole

 

Have you prayed all night, till the break of day,
And the morning light drove the dark away?
Did you linger there, till the morning dew,
In prevailing prayer, did you pray it through?

Refrain
Did you pray till the answer came,
Did you plead in the Savior’s Name?
Have you prayed all night till the morning light,
Did you pray till the answer came?

Did you pray it through, till the answer came?
There’s a promise true for your faith to claim,
At the place of prayer, Jesus waits for you,
Did you meet Him there, did you pray it through?
Refrain

As the Master prayed in the garden lone,
Let your prayer be made to the Father’s throne,
If you seek His will, He will answer you,
Are you trusting still, have you prayed it through?
Refrain

 

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Searching and Finding - Jeremiah 29:13 - God will make Himself known to anyone who sincerely desires to know the truth.

Edith Schaeffer tells of a man in China who longed to know, worship, and serve the true God. The Lord honored that desire by leading him to find a torn page from a catechism that had been prepared by a missionary. On it was the question, "Are there more gods than one?" with the answer, "No, there is only one God." Another question was, "Should we worship idols?" There was only the word "No," and the rest was torn off. But on the basis of those words he went home and destroyed his demon altars.

Then his daughter became ill. "You've angered the demons," chided his neighbors. Hoping to get nearer to God, the man climbed to a 14,000-foot mountain peak and asked God to heal his daughter. Returning home, he learned that her fever had left at the exact time he had prayed. Later in a marketplace he found a copy of Mark's gospel. After reading it and learning about Jesus, he became a Christian.

Do you really want to know God? Search for Him "with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). Look in His Word and be quick to do what He says. Put your trust in His Son. Then you'll truly know God. —Herbert Vander Lugt (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

 

Man gropes his way through life's dark maze,
To gods unknown he lifts his praise;
But when he seeks to know God's Son,
He finds in Him the Living One. --DJD

 

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F B Meyer has a chapter entitled THE ROYALTY OF OUR LIFE (Matt. 7:7-12.)


IT is inevitable, as the Lord has clearly implied in the preceding words, that, so long as we are in the world, we must come in contact with its evil. There will be inconsistencies that we shall be tempted to judge, motes and beams that we shall have to extract, and swine or dogs with whom we must reckon. It cannot be child's play for any of us. And if we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, and unsubdued by the inward power of sin, we must have resort to the weapon of All-Prayer. Therefore it is that our Lord turns from the exhortations of the preceding paragraph to these injunctions concerning prayer. It was as though He said: "You will never succeed in being or doing what I say unless your lives are full of persistent and prevailing prayer."


It may be that there is an even wider range of thought. As we review this matchless conception of a holy life, so far removed above anything which the mind of man has conceived; as we recall the beatitudes of the opening sentences, the searching fulfilment of the older law, the warnings against an impaired intention of the soul, against ostentation, covetousness, and care, our hearts might well faint within us at the immensity of the task before us. And as we think of His demand, that we should be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, that we should be filled with a Divine love, and that we should always treat others as we wish that they should treat us, we might again cry, "Who is sufficient for these things?" To answer this double attitude, which is indeed one, the Lord says:

 

"Pray! What is impossible with man is possible with God. Pray!"

 

We have here two words which prove that the entire paragraph is closely jointed together, " If ye then being evil "; "All things, therefore, whatsoever." The exhortation to prayer is followed by an analogy, and this by an injunction.

 

THE EXHORTATION TO PRAYER.


(1) "Ask."

 

Our Master knew well how much it would mean to us that His own lips should utter that word, but He did not hesitate to speak it. As Son of God, He knew all that asking would do for us; and, as Son of Man, He had often proved the value of the practice He inculcated. Ask, He said. It was as though He loved to dwell on the word. See! He repeats it, not once or twice, but four times over. "Everyone that asketh receiveth"; "if his son shall ask for a loaf "; "if he shall ask for a fish "; "good things to them that ask." It seems as though our Lord would do away with the formality and stateliness that attach to too many of our prayers, and teach us that praying is just asking, and asking as a child would ask. Men shrink from asking for a favour from their fellows, but a little child has no reserve with its father. In the Simplest and most artless manner it asks or what it wants, and with no doubt at all that the father will gladly hasten to respond. "Thus," says our Lord, "ask God for what you want, as long ago you asked your parents; and do it without vehemence or self-consciousness."

 

"Everyone that asketh receiveth."

 

Emerson tells us that he preached his first sermon from these words, having obtained his divisions from the blunt saying of a field labourer, who said that men are always praying, and always being heard. His divisions, therefore, were as follows:


(1) Men are always praying;


(2) All their prayers are granted;


(3) We must beware, then, what we ask.


The second is the doubtful one. Is it true that all our prayers are granted? Not surely in the way that we ask, as we shall see; but in some way. There is no prayer that we utter which is based on a real need, nothing that we sincerely ask for which is not answered somehow, somewhen, somewhere.


With too many of us, alas! there is a failure in the art of receptiveness. We ask, but we fail to take. We send out our letter in the outgoing mail, but never go near the office to ask if there is a reply addressed to us. We send an ocean cablegram asking for a consignment of heavenly treasure, but never go down to the wharf to ascertain if it has arrived, and to claim it.


(2) Seek.

 

You ask for a gift; you seek for something you have lost, or for some valuable treasure.

 

The miner gropes along the corridors of the mine for his quest; the pearl-fisher dives in search of goodly pearls; the woman who had lost her silver piece lit a candle, and swept and searched her house diligently till she found it. Seek, says our Lord. If you have lost your peace with God, the blessed consciousness of His Presence, power in service, or any other spiritual gift, do not settle down content to live without it, but seek it diligently until you find. "Your heart shall live that seek God." If you have heard of some gift or grace which others possess, and may be equally yours as theirs, seek it. Seek it as men seek for hidden treasure or for goodly pearls, or as the philosophers were wont to seek for the substance which should turn everything into gold, as explorers seek for the secret of the North Pole, or as scientists search for the secrets which Nature holds back from all but reverent and persevering inquiry. "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning."


"He that seeketh, findeth."

 

"If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." We may not always find just what we seek, but we shall come on something much better, and more satisfying. Abram and the patriarchs declared plainly that they sought a country, but they all died in tents, the shifting memorials of their pilgrimage. The philosophers of the Middle Ages, to whom we have referred, did not find the golden stone, but they laid the foundations of modern chemistry. You may not obtain that special opportunity of blessing others that you have long desired; but in your willingness to take a subordinate position, in your meekness and humility, you will certainly win a moral and spiritual influence incomparably greater. The resolute seeker finds. He starts off to raise crops of golden grain from the brown fields, and as patiently he drives his plough, the metallic chink of the share on metal makes it certain that he has come on treasure-trove.


(3) Knock.

 

We ask for a gift; we seek something we have lost; but we knock for admittance to the house of our friend. A door stands between us and the master of the house, which can only be opened from within. Then we knock; at first quietly, and then more vehemently and loudly, till we hear the drawing back of bolt and bar, and see the door thrown open. We need the gifts of God, and are thankful for the treasures which are to be obtained by earnest, prayerful search; but we should desire, above all, to have face-to-face friendship with Himself. Sometimes the door of fellowship stands wide open, and we can enter without let or hindrance. At other times it seems as though God had hidden His face and withdrawn Himself. Those are the occasions when we must knock. And how often it has been the experience of the saints that, as they have stood waiting and knocking, the door has been opened as by an invisible hand, and the times of greatest difficulty at the beginning have been those of greatest liberty at the close!


"To him that knocketh it shall be opened."

 

There is no doubt or hesitation in our Lord's assurance. In another paragraph He speaks of those who shall stand without and knock, saying, "Lord, Lord, open unto us," and He shall say, "Depart "; but that dread parable has nothing to do with the access into the presence of God and the fellowship with God, of which the Master is here treating. Persistency, urgency, the holy violence which will not be denied, are dear to the heart of God, and are certain to win a loving and favourable response. "Though the vision tarry, wait for it: it shall come, it shall not tarry."

AN ANALOGY.

 

Bread and fish were the simple fare of the Galilean peasants whom our Lord addressed on the shores of their own beautiful lake, the bread as the necessary staff of life; the fish as an appetizing addition. Little children, in their simplicity, might sometimes mistake a stone for one of the small loaves of the Oriental shape and fashion, or a serpent for a fish. But, even though the heart of a human father is fallen and evil, it cannot be supposed for an instant that he would give the child what it asked. His love would at once withhold his hand. He would say: "No, little one, the stone is not food; the serpent would sting and poison you: but, see, here is what you want, bread and fish. I cannot give it you." So it often happens that in this mortal life of ours, where the shadows fall so dense and dark, and we are obliged to grope in the twilight, we are hungry with immeasurable appetite, and think that only this or the other boon will satisfy our souls. (We clamor for a stone, thinking it to be bread, or cry out for the glittering serpent, supposing it to he a dainty that will titillate our palate. But as the earthly father refused, notwithstanding his weakness and evil, much more will God refuse. "No," He says; "My child, I cannot, for love's sake, give it you; but, see, here is bread indeed, and here the fish, eat, drink, and be satisfied." Again, God sometimes gives things that appear to be stones and serpents, but they turn out to be bread and fish. The mother of St. Augustine prayed to God that He would not suffer her beloved son to go to Rome, because she dreaded the persecutions which were threatening the city. He went, notwithstanding, and it was in Italy that he found Christ. Referring to this incident in his life in after years, he says: "What was it, O my God, that she sought of Thee with many tears? Was it not that Thou wouldest not suffer me to set sail for Rome? But Thou, in Thy deep counsels, and listening to the hinge of her desire, didst disregard the thing which she asked for, that Thou mightest do in me that which she was ever asking, the conversion of my soul."


Do not be surprised if there are placed on your table viands that threaten to break your teeth and-disagree with your digestion. Since God has put them there, and He is good, you will find them in the highest degree nutritious. Though they be the reverse of the Prophet's vision, bitter to the mouth, they will prove to be wholesome, and sweet to the digestion.


Or take a third case. Suppose a child in its hunger asks for bread and fish. Its father, though evil, will not tantalize it by giving it something which will defy its powers of assimilation. Though he were to suffer the extremities of starvation, he would cheerfully endure them rather than respond thus to his child's artless faith., We therefore may go with large requests to our God, asking for what we need, and asking in the certain faith that He will only give us good things. Each prayer we repeat will be answered only in giving. He will substitute the blessing we would crave if we knew as much as He does of the heart of man. What a comfort it is to know that God gives only good things. What He withholds is good; what He gives is good; what He substitutes in His answer to our petitions is good, nay, good is not strong enough. He gives always the best.


It should be remembered that our God gives not only the necessaries, but the luxuries and comforts of life. The Lord prepared for His hungry friends, exhausted by the labours of the night, not bread alone, but fish. "When they got out upon the land they see a fire of charcoal there, and fish laid thereon, and bread." It was as though in that last breakfast with Him the Master desired to teach that in all coming time He would give His faithful disciples the daily supply of their returning wants, together with the warmth of human love, which ministers to the sense of enjoyment as well as to present need.


This is a great consolation in prayer. We can ask for anything and everything we want; we may be sure that no good thing will be withholden from those who walk uprightly; but we may also be sure that God loves us too well to give anything that would hurt us.


Probably our lives are meagre and impoverished when they might become full of good things, because we fail to ask. Notice our Lord's words:" How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him." Is not the Apostle James right when He says, "Ye have not because ye ask not?" That is the one reason. Or, "Because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." That is the second reason. Either not to pray, or to pray from selfish motives, shuts us out of a great amount of Divine helpfulness which otherwise would be ours. Our Lord puts into our hands the key to the vaults in God's bank. It is our fault if all grace does not abound in us, and if we are poor when we might be rich.

 

"AN INJUNCTION"

 

All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them." With much reason this has been called the golden rule.


Gibbon reminds us that in a negative form it was in vogue four centuries before the Christian Era. But this is not to be wondered at, since Christ was in the world from the first. "There was the true Light, even the Light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." But for the positive form of this truth, and for the power by which it can be made operative in our selfish, evil hearts, we are entirely indebted to the teaching and inspiration of Jesus Christ.


Put into common English, this precept may be rendered: Put yourself in another's place; treat him as you would wish to be treated under similar circumstances; do not deal with him as you would not wish to be dealt with. The Lord, in effect, goes back to the words which stand at the beginning of the chapter, saying, "Judge as you would like to be judged; measure as you would like it to be measured to you."


The principle, of course, as He says, is witnessed "by the law and the prophets." We find it stated in the second great commandment: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It is fundamental, underpinning the whole structure of human society. It is equitable, because all men are more nearly on an equality than might be inferred from a consideration of their outward circumstances. It is portable, "like the two-foot rule" which the artisan carries in his pocket for the measurement of any work which he may be called to estimate.


The Emperor Severus was so charmed by the excellence of this rule that he ordered a crier to repeat it whenever he had occasion to punish any person, and he caused it to be inscribed on the most notable parts of the palace, and on many of the public buildings. But though the maxim has attracted so much attention and admiration, it is powerless to effect any great reform apart from the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is that in the other version of this paragraph, in Luke 11:13, our Lord says: "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." After all, it is only they who have stood under the open sky of Pentecost, who have received their share of that blessed enduement and infilling, which is the right of every believer, but which is too seldom claimed, who can go through the world practising always the golden rule of love. It is only they who by the Holy Spirit have been brought into living union with Christ, who receive hour by hour the full current of His life, that can go on loving men with the prodigality of affection, tempered, of course, with wisdom and discretion such as avail to fill up to the brim the full measure of the requirements of the golden rule.


Let us simply, artlessly, and earnestly, ask our Father here and now to bestow upon us in His fulness this best of all donations, -the Holy Spirit.


What a royal life this is to which our Master calls us, on the one hand, deriving all our needed resources from God; and on the other hand, therefore, able to be generous and free-handed to men. "He is able to make all grace abound towards us, that we, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."


Too long have we given stones where men asked bread, and serpents where they asked fish. We have pelted men with stones, we have stung them with the poison of asps; they have turned away from us and our religion with loathing. Henceforth let us go through life repeating in essence the wonderful miracle of John 6., where out of five barley loaves and two small fish, broken by the hand of the Master, and distributed by the hand of the disciples, vast crowds of hungry people were satisfied. Take your bread and fish from Christ, and then break and give, .break and give! There will always be twelve basketsful of fragments left for your personal need. (F. B. Meyer. The Directory of the Devout Life)

 

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J R Miller  (Who Is He?) - The Prayer Promise - Matthew 7:8

 

“Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened..” Matthew 7:8

These are very positive promises, and yet they must be read intelligently, in the light of other scriptures which explain and qualify the words. It is not all asking that receives; for there is asking that is not true prayer. Some ask merely in word, with no real desire in their hearts. Some ask selfishly, that they may consume the divine gift on their lusts. Some ask rebelliously, without submission to the will of God. Some ask without faith, not expecting any answer. Some ask indolently, not ready to do their own part. Some ask ignorantly for things which would not be blessings if they were granted. It is very clear that in these cases those who ask will not receive.

So too not literally all who seek find. The seeking must be earnest. There is a remarkable word in one of the old prophets: “Ye shall seek me, and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” The seeking must also be for good things. If our quest is for sinful things, or for worldly good, that would work in us spiritual harm, God will not give us what we seek. Then we must live right. “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The thing itself must be good; and we must walk in paths of obedience, or there is no promise of reward for our quest.

In like manner it is not to all knocking that God opens the door. There are timid knocks that indicate neither desire nor faith, as when mischievous children ring a doorbell and then run away, not wanting to enter. It is when we knock at the right door, and knock with expectancy and faith and importunity, that the door is graciously opened. Thus in interpreting this wonderful prayer-promise we must read into the words their true meaning. The asking, seeking, knocking, must be true prayer.

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Charles Simeon...

 

THE IMPORTANCE
AND EFFICACY OF PRAYER
Mt 7:7, 8

 

WE need not look for a connexion in every part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount; because the account of it which we have in this Gospel is nothing more than an epitome, in which only the principal heads, together with some important sayings, are recorded. But, if we suppose the words of our text to arise from what has just preceded them, the connexion may easily be found. The commands, to abstain from all uncharitable judgment, and to be intent rather on searching out and removing our own imperfections, and even when the faults of our neighbour are most glaring, to exercise much prudence and caution in reproving him; these commands, I say, are difficult to be obeyed: and therefore our Lord encourages us by the consideration, that we may obtain by prayer whatever wisdom or strength we may stand in need of. The import of the text, however, will be the same, whether we take it as detached from the preceding context, or as connected with it; and it will naturally lead us to set before you the nature, the importance, and the efficacy of prayer.


I. Its nature—
Prayer is not indeed defined in the words before us; but we may collect from the different terms by which it is designated, what are its inseparable attendants and its characteristic marks;


1. Earnest desires—


[The words, “ask,” “seek,” “knock,” must certainly imply a solicitude to obtain some specific object. Now this is the very life and essence of prayer. It is not the posture of the body, or a repeating of any words, either with or without a form, that can be called prayer; but a prostration of the soul before God, accompanied with an ardent desire of acceptance with him. We may confess our vileness in the most humiliating terms, or petition for mercy with the most suitable pleas, or render thanks to God in copious and devout acknowledgments; and yet, if our hearts have not felt what our lips have uttered, we have offered no acceptable service to God; “we have worshipped him in vain, because we have drawn nigh to him with our lips when our hearts were far from him.” Desires in the soul will be accounted as prayer, though not expressed in words&&; but words without desires are no better than a solemn mockery.]


2. Persevering endeavours—


[A mere exclamation under an impression of terror cannot be considered as prayer; prayer imports such a desire after divine blessings as engages us in the pursuit of them from day to day; and this also is intimated in the very terms of our text. “Asking” only is not prayer, unless we “seek” also for the things in God’s appointed way; nor is “seeking” sufficient, if we do not, like persons anxious to obtain an answer, continue “knocking” at the door of mercy. We do not indeed deny but that a prayer may be offered by one who speedily turns back again from God; but it is not accepted; and it is of acceptable prayer that we speak; for nothing else deserves the name of prayer. Whatever therefore a person may do on some particular occasion, he prays not to any good purpose, unless he “set his face” determinately to seek after God, and to obtain from him those daily supplies of mercy and grace which his soul needeth. Hence the command of God is, “Pray without ceasing;” “Continue instant in prayer;” “Pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, watching thereunto with all perseverance&&”]


3. Humble expectation—


[Here again the terms of our text afford us a correct idea of the duty of prayer. It is evident that when a person “asks,” it is with some hope of receiving; and when he “seeks,” he has some prospect of finding; and if he “knock” at a door, it is with some expectation that it shall be opened to him. Now this, beyond every thing else, marks the true character of prayer. “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee,” says the Psalmist, “and will look up&&;” that is, I will look up in expectation of receiving an answer to my prayers. It is to the prayer of faith that the promise of an answer is given: “Whatsoever ye shall ask, believing, ye shall receive.” Prayer destitute of this qualification is declared to be of no avail whatever: the man that offers it “must not think of receiving any thing from the Lord&&.” Hence the true and acceptable suppliant is distinguished as “looking unto God as a servant does to the hand of his master&&,” and as “waiting upon God for his salvation&&.”]


The nature of prayer being explained from the text, we proceed to notice,


II. Its importance—


[We cannot but observe throughout the whole text the inseparable connexion between the means and the end. It is thought by many that it is unnecessary to pray; because God, being omniscient, stands in no need of information from us; and being of his own nature inclined to mercy, he needs not our importunity to prevail upon him. But these objections betray an utter ignorance of the intent of prayer. Prayer is not intended to give information to God, but to impress our own minds with a sense of our dependence upon him, and to give him glory as the only fountain of all our benefits. Moreover, prayer, though often represented as prevailing with God, is not designed to dispose him to any thing to which he was before averse; but only to bring our souls to such a state as may prepare us for a worthy reception of those blessings which God has previously determined to bestow. Though, therefore, prayer does not answer, nor is intended to answer, the ends which ignorant persons are ready to suppose, it does answer the most valuable ends; which are intimately connected with the salvation of our souls.


But we will suppose that there were no connexion whatever between the means and the end; still, if God has united them, it does not become us to put them asunder; nor can we ever expect the Divine blessing, if we attempt to separate them. Moses was commanded to take his stick, or rod, and with that to work miracles in Egypt. What would he have wrought, if, in contempt of such means, he had left his rod behind him? The Israelites were commanded to march round Jericho on seven successive days, and then to blow with rams’ horns. Suppose they had disregarded these means on account of their inadequacy to produce any important result, would the walls of Jericho have fallen down? Or if Naaman had persisted in preferring the waters of Abana and Pharpar to those of Jordan, would he have been healed of his leprosy? Thus then, whether prayer have any proper effect or not, we must use it as God’s ordinance; and if we will not use it, we shall infallibly lose those blessings, which, in the use of the appointed means, we might otherwise attain. True, it is said of the Gentiles, that “God was found of them that sought him not;” but this refers only to their heathen state: for none ever ultimately found him, who did not walk with him in the daily exercise of faith and prayer: nor can there be found in all the sacred volume one single word that justifies a hope of obtaining any thing at God’s hands in the neglect of this sacred duty&&.]


On the contrary, when prayer is offered aright, the whole inspired volume attests,


III. Its efficacy—


[Nothing can be more express than the declarations of our text on this subject. The repetition of them is intended to assure us that no man shall ever “seek God’s face in vain.” It is of importance to observe, that in the promises before us there is no limitation whatever, either as to the person asking or the blessing desired. A person may have been as wicked as Manasseh himself, yet shall he not be cast out, provided he come to God with unfeigned penitence in the name of Jesus Christ. It must be remembered, that, since the coming of Christ, it is indispensably necessary that we should offer all our petitions in his name. This, in fact, was done even under the Jewish dispensation: for every penitent was obliged to put his hand upon the head of his sacrifice; and, when the Jews were in captivity, and consequently were unable to offer sacrifices, they must look towards the temple; which was a distinguished type of Christ, “in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Let but our prayers be offered in an humble dependence on the sacrifice and intercession of Jesus Christ, and they shall assuredly prevail. God may not indeed answer us immediately; and, it may be, that he may not grant the precise thing which we pray for; but he will answer in the best time, and in the best manner, granting that which eventually will be most conducive to his own glory and to our good. David and the Canaanitish woman were suffered to wait for the blessings they desired&&; and St. Paul, yea, and Christ himself too, were answered, not so much according to the letter, as according to the spirit, of their petitions&&. But if we tarry the Lord’s leisure, we may be as “confident” of an answer to our prayers, as of our own existence&&.]


In this subject we may find abundant matter,


1. For reproof—


[How many have never gone beyond the mere forms of prayer; and remain unmoved even when their self-deceit and hypocrisy are thus plainly set before them! How astonishing is this! Methinks, if God had appointed only one hour in a man’s life, wherein he should be at liberty to avail himself of the gracious promises in the text, one would suppose that the whole universe should not be able to divert his attention from this sacred duty: he would long for the appointed season to arrive; he would meditate beforehand on every thing which he could desire to obtain; and he would employ every moment of the prescribed time in most importunate supplications. So, I say, we might suppose; but experience proves, that, notwithstanding there is not an hour in our whole lives wherein we may not avail ourselves of this privilege, the generality have never found one single hour for that holy employment. But would it be thus if God were for one hour to allow this privilege to those who are shut up in hell? If the doors of hell might be opened for their escape, would they neglect to “knock?” If all the blessings of grace and glory might be obtained by them, would they neglect to “ask?” O then, let us “seek the Lord whilst he is near; let us call upon him, whilst he may be found.” Think what a bitter reflection it will be in the eternal world, that we might have escaped the miseries of hell, and obtained the glory of heaven, by the exercise of humble and believing prayer, and we would not: we did not regard either the one or the other, as worth asking for. O that we may now be convinced of our folly, and not be left to bewail it to all eternity!]


2. For encouragement—


[If God had bidden us do some great thing to obtain his favour, we should have been ready to do it. The poor benighted heathen, what pains and penances do not they undergo to obtain the favour of their gods! Yet no such things are required of us: we have nothing to do, but to “ask, and seek, and knock.” Surely we should rejoice in so great a privilege, and determine to “take the kingdom of heaven by the holy violence” of faith and prayer.


But some are discouraged, because they cannot pray with any fluency or enlargement of heart. Let not this however distress the minds of any. It is humility, and not fluency, that makes our prayers acceptable: and many a person who can only seek the Lord with sighs, and groans, and tears, will find acceptance with him, whilst others, who are admired by men, or filled with self-complacency, will be rejected. Never, from the foundation of the world, was there a better prayer than that of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”


But some are discouraged because they have prayed long without receiving any answer to their prayers. Let not, however, any despond on this account. God may have answered them, though not precisely in the way that they expected: and the very continuance of their prayers is an evidence that they have not prayed in vain. It is evident at least that God has given them his Holy Spirit, as a Spirit of grace and of supplication; and this is a pledge and earnest of other blessings which they stand in need of. Let them “tarry the Lord’s leisure, and he will comfort their hearts;” “let them wait, I say, upon the Lord&&.”]

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