Keep on Asking, Seeking, Knocking
Audio commentary by David Daniel
Scripture: Matthew 7:7-11
Lesson Goal: To better understand how persistent praying reveals the love of the Father.
Believer’s Bible Commentary says:
If we think 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 to 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, verses 7 and 8 might seem like the ultimate blank check for believers. In the improper context, it would seem that all we have to do to receive something is simply ask for it. This is not true. This kind of interpretation is a misapplied and misunderstood interpretation. These verses should be understood in their proper context and meaning. For a correct interpretation, we must understand them in their immediate context and in the context of all Scripture. As we interpret these verses in the context of Scripture, we understand they are not a blank check called prayer. These verses certainly have application in the context on Jesus’ sermon, while at the same time having application as interpreted by the whole of Scripture. Although not an exhaustive list, some helpful passages for proper understanding are Psalm 66:18; James 1:6-8; 1 John 5:14; Luke 18:1-8 and Hebrews 10:22a.
What can these passages teach us concerning Matthew 7:7-8?
In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about the true character of His followers. In chapters 5 and 6 and chapter 7:1-6, He expounds upon the Kingdom character of His followers. There is a difference in the lives, actions, attitudes and behavior of His followers, as compared to the world. There is also a difference between His true followers and the religious scribes and Pharisees. For many of Jesus’ listeners, His words seem like an impossibility (see 5:20). In today’s verses, Jesus helps His listeners to understand that what they may see as impossible can become possible.
(VV 7-8) As we read these words, we understand the context and meaning to be that of “prayer.” But let us also remember that these are not Jesus’ first words on prayer found in the Sermon on the Mount. “Jesus has already warned us against pharisaic hypocrisy and pagan formalism and has given us His own model prayer. Now however, He actively encourages us to pray. Prayer is the very way God Himself has chosen for us to express our conscious need of Him and our humble dependence on Him” (Stott).
In Matthew 7:7, we find the words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.” Each of these words is found in the present imperative tense. The idea is that of persistence, continuance, and constancy. The idea is that of asking, seeking, and knocking. As followers of Jesus, we are to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. We also find in these three words a progressive intensity. Jesus offers these words to help us understand the simplicity of making our request known. It is not a highly complicated process of ritual or formalism. With a pure heart, as a follower of Jesus Christ, simply “ask, seek, and knock.”
In summary of verses 7 and 8, John Phillips writes:
We can picture Jesus looking into the incredulous faces of His disciples who wondered how in the world anyone could possibly live the kind of life described in the Sermon on the Mount. He was well aware that no one had the wisdom or strength to keep His commandments, so He linked our impotence to God’s omnipotence. We must come to God and ask. That is, we must recognize our dependence on God. We must seek. That is, we must bestir [rouse to action] ourselves; we must earnestly desire to live the life the Lord described. We must knock (krouō). That is, we must importunate and besiege the battlements of Heaven and strike with determination at God’s door (knock, knock, knock). The Lord urged us to be importunate not because God is hard of hearing or slow to respond, but because we are sluggish and prone to give up.
Let us remember that, as G. Campbell Morgan said, ‘It is not a servant who keeps the door, but our Father.’ And what a Father He is.
As you pray, what do the words ask, seek, and knock mean to you personally?
What is persevering prayer? How does a true believer persevere in prayer?
Why does God not always immediately answer our prayers?
(VV9-10) “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Jesus offers some very helpful and pointed illustrations. But we must understand the context and framework of His illustrations. Jesus speaks in terms of a loving, caring father. The phrase “what man” makes reference to such a person.
It is important to remember that not everyone has had the blessing of a loving, caring earthly father. For some, because of cruelties of the past, the very mention of the word father causes pain and anguish. This pain makes it very difficult to define the love of the heavenly Father, because the only meaning that can be drawn upon for the word “father” comes from the disappointments associated with an earthly father.
Jesus tells us that the very best of earthly fathers, as we define them, cannot compare to the love of the heavenly Father. Just as we know that no loving father would give his child anything to harm him. An earthly father would not deceive a hungry son or give him something that would inflict pain.
(V11) “If you then, being evil…” (as compared to a holy God “Father”)
As a father and grandfather, I, Brother Mickey, can say I love my children and grandchildren with the greatest and highest love to which I am capable. But my highest and greatest love cannot compare to the way and manner in which they are loved by the heavenly Father. He is a holy, good and loving Father who understands, cares, loves, and willingly gives good things to those (His children) who ask, seek and knock.
Please explain this phrase in regard to earthly parents: Good parents give good gifts to their children.
What happens to our children if we simply give them everything they wish for?
What are some good gifts parents may give their children without buying a thing?
Can you think of a time when you witnessed the blessing of God by persistent praying?
Can you acknowledge a time in your life when God did not answer your prayer immediately in order to show His love to you in a greater way after a time of waiting? Please prayerfully explain.
Has there been a time in your life when God answered your prayer by not giving you that which you had asked? How did this show His love to you? Please explain.