Summary: In our passage today, Jesus illustrates the power and provision of prayer. But we'll see that it isn't always as simple as, 'ask and you shall receive'.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (part 19)
In our passage today, Jesus illustrates the power and provision of prayer. It was almost time for the 'Old Fashioned Revival Hour' radio program to go on the air. The broadcast was coming from a tin-roofed building in Waterloo, Iowa. As Dr. Charles Fuller stood on the platform to get ready to go on the air, a heavy rain began to fall and pound on that tin roof, making it impossible to conduct the broadcast. Dr. Fuller prayed, "Lord, if you don't stop the rain we won't be able to do our broadcast. Please make the rain stop. Within a few minutes, the rain stopped suddenly. The broadcast went on without any interference. Five minutes after the broadcast was finished there was a torrential downpour. Coincidence? No, this is the power of prayer.
1) Ask, Seek, Knock.
Matt. 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
Here we see three verbs; all with different meanings. This can illustrate a process. We ask for something but instead of sitting back and waiting we take it a step further and do some things to try to obtain it. Then, we persistently knock to get a response.
One the one hand, this could be taken in a negative way. I've asked but God's not responding so I'll take matters in my own hands and get it myself. Then, in a demanding and selfish way, I'm going to keep pounding on the door until God gives me what I want. But that's not what Jesus is referring to.
This action pattern signifies willingness, passion and persistence; all good qualities when channeled correctly and for the right purpose. People’s NT commentary, “Ask implies a simple petition. Seek indicates an earnest search. Knock shows perseverance in spite of hindrances.”
In the act of asking I'm showing that something is important to me and I am looking to the one whom I know can help me. In the act of seeking, it shows that I'm willing to pursue it. I'm not just going to expect God to drop it in my lap; I'm following the prompting of the Holy Spirit and doing what I need to do in order to receive what I've asked for.
And in the knocking, I'm showing that it's something I'm willing to be persistent in. I care about this enough to show that I'm not going to give up until the Lord tells me to. Adam Clarke’s commentary: “Ask with confidence and humility. Seek with care and application. Knock with earnestness and perseverance.”
Luke 18:1-8, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Even though he didn't want to help the widow, he ended up giving in to her persistence. Jesus contrasts that with God, saying, how much more will the Father see that you get justice, since he loves you and cares about you? We should not give up praying for justice and any other righteous desire because although at times it may seem like God isn't listening or doesn't care, Jesus confirmed that he does.
But why would God make us be so persistent before giving us his blessing? Sometimes it's a test to determine how important it is to us; and if we are willing to pursue it. He may also hold off so that we may appreciate it more. When something doesn’t come easy it’s appreciated more.
Sometimes we think God shouldn’t make us ask, seek or knock. He knows what we need so he should just give it to us. Sometimes God does operate that way. By his greatness he answers immediately. There are times when he blesses us without even asking for it. But just because he does it this way sometimes it’s wrong for us to expect or demand that he do it this way all the time.