Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:7-11 NLT
My Thoughts: Today we have some of my favorite verses so let’s dig right in!
Jesus starts by telling us He wants to hear from us through prayer, and not just any prayer, but effective prayer. Let’s look at the definition of the word effective:
“Effective-producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect”
Jesus is encouraging us to not only ask for a specific outcome, but to do so with confidence, expecting a desired effect.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
These are action words (asking, seeking, and knocking) therefore we must actively pursue God through our prayers. However, is that what we do, or do we give up after a few half-hearted attempts? Do we assume God isn’t listening or doesn’t care when we don’t get an answer immediately, or worse, if we don’t get the exact answer we want? Hmmmm…
It’s not surprising that we want instantaneous answers when our world is built around attempting to gain instant results. However, Jesus wants us to take our time and get to know Him as we pray. If we don’t get an answer right away, He wants us to seek what He says about our issue in the Bible and through what we learn in church or by discussing it with a trusted friend. As we learn more about Jesus through our reading and studies we develop knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. These characteristics definitely help us pray and ask for the things that are in line with what God wants for us.
To clarify how and why we pray for what is in line with what God says, He adds some unusual verses:
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:9-11 NLT
These verses might sound confusing because there might be a misunderstanding that God will give us what we ask for, but notice what it says is our heavenly Father gives good gifts. The children ARE asking for good things (bread and fish) and no loving parent would ever give a child something harmful instead of something they need. It is the same with God. Although we may be praying for something with heartfelt consistency, God may tell us ‘no’ or give us a different answer if what we are asking for will harm us. That is why it’s critical for us to get to know Him so we pray for what we need and not necessarily for what we want. God is a loving God and he wants to give us good gifts.
This is why it is so important for us to be in a Bible believing church and to have trusting and supportive friends to pray with us. I recently read some verses in the book of Esther (Old Testament) that opened my eyes to the importance of prayer support in times of critical needs.
Esther was a queen, but she and her people (the Jewish nation) were facing certain death because of one evil man’s treacherous plan to kill all the Jews. Many people quote a verse a cousin said to her about using her position as queen for “such a time as this (Esther 4:14).”
But it was Esther’s response to her cousin that spoke deeply to me:
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16 NIV
A call to fast in the Old Testament included a call to pray. There are two things I want us to note about Esther’s request to fast. First, Esther was not alone in her pledge to fast; she had a nation of Jews and her servants fasting with her as she prepared to ask for her husband’s intervention. Second, Esther did not sit and wait for God to miraculously save her and the Jewish nation, but rather she sought God’s direction through prayer and ultimately followed that with her actions.
When we face challenges in life we are to seek what God wants us to do, and then do it, with confidence that God will do his part. However, sometimes the best way to do that is with a ‘nation;’ meaning we ask other believers to pray with and for us. God does not expect us to walk through difficulties in life alone. That is why it is so important for us to be attending a Bible believing church and attend classes to not only learn more, but also develop those critical personal relationships with other believers.
Finally, you may have been praying for a long time about something but haven’t received the answer you seek. Don’t give up. I have been praying for almost 19 years for one thing and I still do not have an answer. There are days I cry to God and ask why…, He comforts me. There are days I ask when, Lord, when? However, I know it will be in His perfect timing, and not a minute sooner. I’ve asked the same thing in a lot of creative ways, but that’s just for me to keep praying and not for God, because I know He hears me. That gives me peace, comfort, and strength and I am not discouraged. Why? Because when I studied God’s word He revealed to me that He would answer my prayer. However, he didn’t say when or how, so my faith trusts He will do what He says He will do. Therefore, I keep praying, and I will do so until it is answered, because God’s will and God’s timing are always perfect.
Praying consistently and with the hope of God does not scare or upset me. Why? I’ve seen the work of God in my life and it’s far better than any plan I have ever had! So I praise Him and I thank Him in advance of the answer!
Closing Prayer: Father God, I love these verses and the promises You have wrapped around them about effective prayer. I pray that every person who reads this spends time alone with You each day so they can learn more about You and grow in their knowledge and relationship with You. Father, guide us as we pray so as we seek, ask, and knock, we understand more about what we need. We pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.