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Old and New Testament.
"Sermon on the Mount" (Bloch)
Matthew 7:7-8 Commentary
and it will be
and you will
and it will be
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.
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."
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;
Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you:
(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
"Jug not that ye be not jugged"
Artwork related to Mt 7:3-5:
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:
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
Global Prayer Digest
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"
Notes on praying for hope, joy, peace
Notes on praying for enlightenment,
Notes on praying for inner
Notes on Paul's "complete" prayer
praying when anxious
Notes on prayer for loving
Notes on praying without ceasing
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
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)
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)
(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).
= 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
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
“&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.”&
(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
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."
(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
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
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
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)
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
(MacDonald, W., & Farstad,
Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and
New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Phil Newton explains it this
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
(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
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
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)
The Disciple's Study Bible
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
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
(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
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
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
The sermon has begun with acknowledgment of personal bankruptcy (notes
and has already provided a model prayer (notes
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).
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
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.
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
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
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.
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)
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.”
In the classic The Practice of the
Presence of God, Brother Lawrence explained "all-prayer"
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!)
John Wesley was described as
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
(John Wesley, Works. Zondervan, 1959)
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.
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.
J R Miller (Who
Is He?) has
the following devotional...
Ask, and it shall be given you. -
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.
and he who
and to him who
it will be
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.
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
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
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)
2 Chronicles 33:1,2,19;
&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
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
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.
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
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
&This is the rule of God’s kingdom
invariably, whenever the request is a right one, and is presented in a
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.
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
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
He possesses all who knows the Creator of all.
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?
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?
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?
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
To gods unknown he lifts his praise;
But when he seeks to know God's Son,
He finds in Him the Living One. --DJD
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.
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
"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,
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.
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
"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
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."
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
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.
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
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
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)
J R Miller
- The Prayer Promise - Matthew
“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.
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
The nature of prayer being explained from the text, we proceed to
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
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
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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