There is nothing that reveals more about a believer than his or her prayer life. How that individual approaches God and what that individual is willing to ask for can reveal how he or she views God. We frame our requests in accordance with what we know of the character of the one we are addressing. It is very similar to how a child will make a request from their father. The child with a kind, gentle and firm father, does not fear to ask anything, for deep down they have the assurance that the father has greater wisdom and experience, and because he loves them, would not give them anything that would be harmful. The child with extravagant but uncaring father will with arrogance lay down his demand – sometimes with much weeping and wailing – knowing his every desire will be met. The child with the stingy, ill-tempered, abusive father will seldom dare to ask for anything.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” It is interesting that the first letter in each verb also spells the word ASK! All three verbs in verse seven, Ask, Seek, Knock are imperatives (commands). There are two basic kinds of imperatives in the New Testament. There is the aorist imperative which is a command to do a particular thing at one specific time, and there is the present imperative which is a command not only to do something but to keep on doing it indefinitely. All three verbs in verse seven are not only imperatives but they are present tense imperatives. We are told to ask and keep on asking, we are to seek and keep on seeking and we are to knock and keep on knocking.
There is also within this verse a progression in prayer. The very words ask, seek and knock seem to suggest an ever-increasing intensity in prayer.
- Asking. This one is obvious. There are some things that the need is so clear that we merely must ask for them. However, there are times as James has said, when “Ye have not because Ye ask not.”
- Seeking. Seeking is a deeper level of prayer than just asking. Sometimes we may doubt or be in darkness and we need to first seek God’s will before we know what to pray for. But God has made provision even in those times when we don’t know what or how to ask; for we read in Romans 8:26-27 “the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” If something is not the “will of God” we can ask until the cows come home, and it will do no good. Seek is (asking + effort): When someone wants something, they pursue it. To pursue something you must show effort. You can’t seek after something that you show no effort for. When Jesus said for you to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread”, he did not mean that he will pour money from heaven into your bank account! Jesus meant, God will open doors to provide for our daily needs. God is not going to do what you can, but he is more than willing to do for you what you can’t on your own.
So, “seeking” may be seeking God’s will; or seeking after that for which we have asked God to help us with; or it may also mean just plain seeking after God while we wait for an answer.
- Knocking. The knocking here denotes seeking entrance, or desiring fellowship with. When you knock on a door, you are looking for the door to open. Again it is also a suggestion of persistence – “keep on knocking.” Which of these three (ask, seek, knock) do we do the most? I would say – (ASK) Which do we do the least? I would say – (SEEK) Which is the most difficult for you to do?
More in Part 2 next week…