Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you Matthew 7:7
While Scripture memorization and meditation are vital to a Christian life, the same can be said for a vibrant prayer life. God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through our prayers of praise, petition, and intercession. Without the Bible, prayer has no real direction. And without prayer, the Bible is less dynamic. Like ham and eggs, corned beef and cabbage, steak and potatoes, the Bible and prayer go hand in hand.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord outlined three levels of prayer that should characterize the prayer life of a believer. In His words, we are to “ask . . . seek . . . knock.” Effective prayer is wrapped up with His will for our lives. If we know His will in a matter, we “ask.” If we do not know His will, we are to “seek.” If we know His will but the answer has not come, we are to “knock” until the door opens. Many believers never rise above the first level of prayer to the level of seeking, much less to the level of knocking. Effective prayers are those that beseech the throne of grace on all three levels.
THE LEVEL OF PRESENTING A PETITION “Ask, and it will be given to you”
We must ask. Ironically, as simple as this may seem, some find it difficult to do. There are those who are too proud or too self-sufficient to ever ask anyone for anything. Thus, for them, asking God is something almost unthinkable.
In the language of the New Testament, the verbs ask, seek, and find are in their present active imperative form. This simply means that the subject is performing the action, the action is ongoing, and it is a command, not an option. Thus, Christ is saying that we are to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. On this first level of prayer, intercessors ask and have the promise of God that they will “receive.” When you know God’s will in a matter, you can ask and have the confidence that you will receive. This is why when one prays to receive Christ, confident that it is the Lord’s will that none should perish (John 3:16), this person receives the gift of eternal life. However, there are times when we have asked for certain things and did not receive them because they were contrary to God’s will for us. Quite honestly, in retrospect over the years, I am thankful God did not give me all the things for which I sometimes selfishly ask Him.
THE LEVEL OF PRESSING A PETITION “seek, and you will find”
There is a higher level of prayer than that of simply presenting your petition before God, and that is the level of pressing your petition. This is the prayer we pray when we do not know the will of God in a matter, and we seek until we find it. This is a deeper, more mature level of prayer because it puts self aside and is motivated by a desire to want to know the will of God in a matter. It involves a search for the heart of God coupled with a regular pattern of Bible reading. It is why the apostle Paul admonished us “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).
We are to keep on seeking with an intensity that goes far beyond the level of simply presenting our petitions. And the promise is that we will find God’s perfect will for our lives if we don’t give up. He does not want to veil His will from us; He desires that we know it and walk in it.
THE LEVEL OF PERSISTING WITH A PETITION “knock, and it will be opened for you”
When we reach this higher level of prayer, it becomes readily apparent who is serious and who is not. To keep on knocking requires tremendous perseverance (Luke 11:5-8). We pray on this level of persisting with a petition when we feel certain we know the will of God in a matter but have not seen it come to fruition yet. We keep on asking . . . keep on seeking . . . keep on knocking and hold on to the promise that “it will be opened to you.”
There is a sense in which God deals with us as we do our own children. When they are small, we teach them to ask for certain things. Later, we teach them to seek after their desires. And, because we know what is best for them, we encourage them to show real earnestness until the doors are opened for them. We would do our children a great injustice if we treated them when they were ten years old as we did when they were two, or if we treated them when they were eighteen as we did when they were ten. When our children are small, we teach them to ask for things. When they get older and progress through school, we teach them to seek for answers to their homework. And, by the time they get to be young adults, they best know how to knock. We pray on this higher level of pray when we know the will of God in a matter, yet the door remains closed. We never give up because we hold to God’s promise: “It will be opened to you.” There are times in our Christian experience when we ask God in prayer for certain things, and it seems He does not answer us. However, He always answers. Sometimes the answer is direct: we pray and almost immediately we see the answer requested. Other times our request is denied: God answers, but in a way that denies our request because He knows what is best for us. There are also times when the answer is delayed: God seems to put us in a holding pattern, and the answer eventually comes according to His timetable instead of ours. And then there are answers that are different from what we expected. Just because He answers our prayers in a different manner than we anticipated does not mean our prayers are not answered. As you meditate on these three levels of prayer – don’t simply ask, but seek. And, yes, keep on knocking. Never give up. We have His promises: “It will be given to you . . .you will find . . . it will be open to you.”
Your servant in Christ, From “The Joshua Code” by O.S. Hawkins
Pastor Jack 2012, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN
The Scripture readings and sermon titles for worship in May are:
May 5th: The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper
Acts 9:1-20; John 21:1-19
Sermon Title – “The Sacrament of the Ordinary”
May 12th: Ephesians 5:25-33; Psalm 148; John 13:31-35
Sermon Title – “By This They Will Know”
May 19th: Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 23; John 10:22-30
Sermon Title – “The Psalm of the Savior’s Sufficiency”
May 26th: Revelation 21:10, 22:1-5; Psalm 67, John 14:23-29
Sermon Title – “Peace I Give You”