In this lesson/sermon you will discover what asking, seeking, and knocking looks like in prayer based on Matthew 7:7-11.
Billy Sunday once said, “If you are a stranger to prayer, then you are a stranger to the greatest source of power to human beings.” David Jeremiah said, “To know how to speak to God is more important than knowing how to speak to man.”
Most of us do not pray out of duty. We pray out of desperation. So, let’s get desperate. Not in the hopeless sense, but with a sense of urgency. Let’s get desperate about praying for our children, our marriages, our church, our city, and our country. Let’s get serious and ask God to give us a deep desire and drive to pray for church planters, missionaries, and pastors. Let’s get desperately urgent!
Sadly, we pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Jesus demonstrated the power of prayer throughout His life. It is no exaggeration to say that prayer undergirded and preceded and empowered everything that our Lord did while He walked on this earth. Let’s follow His example.
What I want to do today is to help you catch a glimpse of what you might be missing by not making prayer a vital part of your life. I want you to see that prayer is more than asking. Prayer is asking and getting involved in the answer. So many of us are needlessly living at a level far beneath that which God wants for us. He has a storehouse full of rich provisions, just waiting to be given to all those who will simply ask Him to open His hand. So often it is true that we have not because we ask not. If I accomplish anything at all in this message, I hope I will light a fuse in your heart that will ignite into an unquenchable craving for God’s best in your life. I invite you to explore the possibility that, just maybe, you could be missing out on something wonderful and indescribable – yet something easily attainable and which God has designed to bless you beyond all imagination.
God wants you to pray. He wants to bless you. He wants to answer your prayer. God’s Word has a lot to say about prayer and one of those lessons is found in Matthew 7:7-11.
“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. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 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. (NLT)
Jesus does not want to push us into praying as much as He desires to entice us into it! It’s like the wonderful smell of a great restaurant that draws you in. God wants to draw you with the spiritual aroma of prayer and its rewards. What does Jesus teach us about prayer? There are several lessons in Jesus’ statement, but we are going to focus on one.
Here it is: God wants you to A.S.K. Notice the three important words in verse 7, “asking… seeking… knocking.” Let’s look at each one.
So that we don’t miss His point, Jesus uses the word ask five times in this passage. Jesus says, ask. He doesn’t say beg. He merely says, ask. But this asking (aiteo) means to ask with urgency. It carries the idea of a great need or desperation. This is something only God can take care of and you believe He must do something about it or nothing is going to happen.
I have been a pastor for nearly 30 years. Over that time, I’ve had people come to me to talk about their problems, asking for counsel on how to deal with a person or a situation. I’m always glad to help. Sometimes I will say, “Have you asked God about it?” More often than not, the reply was, “Well… no, I guess I haven’t.” Why would anyone come to Jeff Stott before they would approach the Creator of the universe? I know the Bible says that we should seek advice from others, but let’s start by asking God first and then seek advice from others. The Bible says we don’t have because we don’t ask. So if we don’t have it, and we need it, maybe we ought to try asking for it. Jesus didn’t tell us five times to ask in this passage because He had nothing better to say. He wants us to ask. The question is, will you? Go ahead and ask.
- God, I’m asking you to heal my son.
- Heavenly Father, I’m asking you to give me wisdom to make the best decision.
- Lord, I need love for that person at work. Will you give it to me?
- Jesus, I have made some poor decisions financially and I want to get out of debt and pay my bills, will you help me do that?
- God, I don’t like my husband anymore, but I want to like him again. Can you help me with this?
Many of us think that is where prayer ends. We say, “Well, I have now asked God to do something and it is now up to Him.” But, there is more to praying than simply asking God for something or to do something. Prayer is more than words.
Jesus not only said that you are to ask, but that you are to seek. The three words in this passage are all commands and each word is a little more intense than the word preceding it. We are told to ask and we are also told seek. This is where prayer starts becoming more active. The word seek (zeteo) means to attempt to learn something by careful investigation or searching. Seeking is asking plus acting.
What does that mean? What are we to seek?
Seek to understand God’s will
Seek to understand God’s will. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT). God’s word is God’s will.
- Let’s say you are asking God for healing. What does the Bible say about healing? While you are asking, do some seeking into God’s Word and see what God already says about it.
- Let’s say you are asking God to help you pay bills and get debt free. While you are doing that study God’s Word and see what He says about managing finances.
- Let’s say you are asking God to restore your marriage. While doing that see what God’s Word says about marriage and being the spouse God wants you to be.
What I’m saying is that a lot of our prayers are already answered in God’s Word if we look for it. If we seek for it. Some people say, “Well, I ask God to do this and He never answered.” Yes He did! His answer for you was in His Word that you never looked at. He knew what you were going to ask before you asked, so He answered it in His Word.
Seek advice from others
You are seeking God’s answer to your prayer in God’s word, but you also need to seek advice from others. You are asking God for something. You are seeking an answer in God’s Word, but you aren’t sure yet what God’s answer is. You have come across some Scripture that has brought light onto your request, but you still need some help on discerning what it actually means in your specific situation. If that is the case, then seek advice from others. Proverbs 12:15 says, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” (NLT). Proverbs 11:14 says, “There is safety in having many advisers” (NLT). Proverbs 15:22, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (NLT). Proverbs 19:20 says, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” (NLT).
- If your request is healing, then maybe you need to seek out a doctor and get his or her advice. Maybe God’s healing is not going to come from a miracle, but from medicine, surgery, healthier lifestyle or a combination of all the above.
- If your request is about financial management then talk to someone who can help you set up a budget, pay bills, and organize your money.
- If your request is about a relationship issue, maybe you need to talk to a counselor or a wise Christian who can speak truth and insight into that situation.
- Maybe you are asking God about starting a ministry then go get advice from those who can shed insight into your decision.
You are asking, but you are also seeking and searching for the answer. Prayer is more than words.
Seek God’s kingdom
Let me add one more aspect to this praying and seeking. Seek God’s kingdom with the request. When you are praying and seeking you are not looking for what is best for you, but what is best for God and His glory. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the kingdom of God above all else” (NLT). Evaluate what you are asking for. Is your request about God’s kingdom or yours? Is it simply about your comfort, rather than your character? If you are asking God to help you get debt free and He helps you to get debt free, what are your intentions with that money that you freed up? Is your request kingdom of God driven? If you are asking God to heal you, then what is your intentions in doing with that health he gives you? Is it about God’s kingdom or yours? Seek the kingdom of God above all else!
Prayer is more than words.
Jesus tells us to ask… seek… and knock. Why wouldn’t Jesus simply say “ask and seek and you will receive your answer.” Why add the image of someone knocking on a door? Jesus said, Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. An open door shows that there’s a way out and can also provide a view of what lies ahead. An open door symbolizes a new beginning. A new opportunity, but you will need to take a step of faith to enter the door.
You have been asking and you have been seeking an answer and you have found the answer. Now what? This is where knocking on the door comes in. The knocking on the door and it opening up and you walking through it is the application and the doing and the believing of what you found while you were praying and seeking. At this moment you will have a decision to make. Am I going to knock on that door and let God give me an opportunity to apply what He has revealed to me?
When you are asking and seeking and knocking and the door opens it will change your life.
- You have been asking God to help you get debt free. You have sought out God’s answer by studying His Word on the matter and by seeking godly advice. Now it’s time to knock on the door, see it open, and walk through it with applying the answer to your prayer. When you were seeking you discovered that God’s Word says you should make a budget, save, pay your bills, avoid unnecessary debt, tithe and give, and be content with what you have. When you start applying what God has showed you, you are knocking on the door and walking through it.
- You have been asking God to restore your marriage. You have sought out God’s answer by examining what God’s Word says about marriage and being a spouse. You have sought out godly counsel. You have discovered that you need to speak more kindly to your spouse, you need to demonstrate love they understand, you need to pray for your spouse more, and you need cherish and honor them more than you have. Now that you know that, it’s time to knock on the door, see it open, and walk through it with applying the answer to your prayer.
The asking is the praying. The seeking is the researching. The knocking is the application. Prayer is more than words. When God opens the door for you that is God giving you an opportunity to apply what you have learned from praying and seeking.
Listen carefully, most of your prayers are going to be answered by active participation in seeking the answer. One of the reasons why we don’t see a lot of prayers answered is because all we have done is asked. We asked, but we didn’t seek and since we didn’t seek we don’t know what door to knock on.
Prayer is more than words. It is more than asking. Prayer is asking… seeking… and knocking.
- Asking: Ask God for what you need.
- Seeking: Seek God’s answer in His Word, with godly counsel, and make sure your request is about God’s kingdom, not yours.
- Knocking: Apply what God tells you.