Summary: A Look at Jesus teaching on Prayer in Matthew 7:7-11.
This morning we will look as Jesus continues teaching on our relationships in the Kingdom of God,specifically our relationship with our Heavenly Father-because Christ knew that it is only through God, living in total dependence on Him (being poor in spirit) that we could ever hope to live this life, live out these values that He is calling us to.
We must come to God regularly in prayerful dependence and ask for the strength, wisdom, discernment, courage, power we need to live as Christ followers.
This morn. Look at Matthew 7:7-11. Read.
At least the first 2 verses here are probably very familiar to most of us. “Ask, seek, knock”
Should be clear that Christ is talking about coming to God in prayer. And we see in these verses a promise from God-that if we come to Him in prayer and ask He will hear and answer.
“Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, Knock and the door shall be opened.”
On the surface sounds wonderful, and is the basis for a lot of name it and claim it theology-
All you have to do is ask in faith and God will give you whatever you want.
But that is not what Christ was teaching here-this is not an unconditional promise that will turn God into some cosmic vending machine, just put in our quarter and He will dispense whatever blessing we desire.
There are 4 limits to this promise-and we have to use proper methods of Biblical interpretation to see them-
#2-Interpret Scripture in light of Scripture-
First, look at the context-verses that come before and after.
-Who is the audience for these verses? Those who are already followers of Christ-This promise is only for believers.
2-What has Christ already said about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount?
6:9-13-Your kingdom come, your will be done
When we pray we must pray in submission to the will of God, praying for His will not our own.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He will hear us.” James 5:14
Also, where have we just seen Christ talk about seeking in the Sermon on the Mount?
6:33- “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
So when Christ says to ask, seek and knock. We must be sure that whatever it is that we are asking, seeking and knocking is in line with God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
-This means that when we come to God and ask we need to come and ask with right motives.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3
-Praying and asking in submission to His will also means that when we come and ask we need to be living in obedience.
“and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.”
So when we pray, need to remember those things. What else can we learn about how we should pray from these verse?
How should we pray when we come to God with our requests.
We need to persevere in prayer.
All 3 verbs in these verses are “present imperatives”-it would be accurate to translate them as “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking”
Don’t give up, be persistent, continue asking, continue seeking, continue knocking.
Next, there seems to be a rising level on intensity indicated here.
Ask-coming to God with our needs, like a child coming to their father
Seek-Adds the element of responsibility-we are not just passively asking, we are involved in doing what God has revealed
Praying for a job-apply for jobs, seek training,
Praying for money-go out and find work
Knock even more intense, not giving up, pound on the door until someone answers.
See in verses 9-10 illustrates the goodness of God and His desire to answer our prayers.
Illustrates this by bringing up 2 staples of the Jewish diet in those days-bread and fish-later in His ministry He would provide these not only for His disciples but for over 5,000 at one time and over 4,000 at another.
Read verse 9-There were some rocks in the area that looked very similar to the bread that they would bake. Christ says no Father would play a cruel trick on their son by instead of giving them the bread that they are hungry for gives them something that looks like bread but they will obviously know is not bread as soon as they touch it.
Verse 10-Not giving them a live snake instead of a fish, but rather the idea is again, if your son is hungry and asks for fish to eat-you wouldn’t give him the meat of a snake that has been cooked and would look like fish and unlike the bread would meet the son’s physical need-they could eat it, but because snakes were unclean animals-eating the snake would make the son ceremonially unclean-a loving father wouldn’t deceive his son and defile him by tricking him into eating food that ceremonially unclean.