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Matthew 7:7-12

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Introduction

Ask, and It Will Be Given

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Last week we looked at the often quoted scripture, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And today we’re moving on to yet another often quoted portion of Scripture, this time, usually within the walls of the church, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you,” or sometimes abbreviated simply as “Ask, seek and knock.”
Easily distorted scripture
The implication here in this portion of text is prayer
And like our text last week this particular scripture can be very dangerous when divorced from its context. If we read verses 7 and 8 apart from their immediate context, and the entirety of Scripture, we can easily come away with a very pliable theology on prayer. Or in other words an understanding of prayer that can be easily maligned or distorted if we’re not careful.

Answering important questions about prayer

What I mean is that if all of what I know about prayer is what's said in these two verses then I really don't have much to go on, other than ask and God will give it to you, or seek and you will find what you're looking for, or knock and God will open the door. It says nothing about what you should ask for or how you should ask for it.
What I mean, is that if all of what I know concerning the subject of prayer is what I’ve read here in these two verses then I don't have much to go on, other than ask, and God will give it to me, or seek, and I will find, or knock and God will open the door. It says nothing about what we should ask for or how we should ask for it. This text assumes we’ve already answered those questions.
So it’s important for us to understand that this particular text requires an understanding of everything else Scripture teaches on prayer for us to rightly understand what Jesus means to say here. And if we don't have answers to some very basic questions concerning prayer, it's likely we'll run with these verses in the wrong direction. We’ll misunderstand them, and we might erroneously conclude that it really doesn't matter what we ask for, but only that we ask for it, thereby treating God as a sort of a genie in a bottle. We might also think that it doesn't matter how we ask, or how we seek after these things, but only that we do.
This particular text requires an understanding of everything else Scripture teaches on prayer to answer those questions. And if we don't have answers to those question it's likely we'll run with these verses in the wrong direction. We might conclude that it really doesn't matter what we ask for, but only that we ask for it, thereby treating God as a sort of a genie in a bottle. We might also think that it doesn't matter how we ask, or how we seek after these things, but only that we do.
This particular text requires an understanding of everything else Scripture teaches on prayer to answer those questions. And if we don't have answers to those question it's likely we'll run with these verses in the wrong direction. We might conclude that it really doesn't matter what we ask for, but only that we ask for it, thereby treating God as a sort of a genie in a bottle. We might also think that it doesn't matter how we ask, or how we seek after these things, but only that we do.
The emphasis to ask, seek and knock
And of course the emphasis here in verses 8 and 9 is precisely that we should ask, and that we should seek, and that we should knock, but it's absolutely critical that we couch this emphasis to ask, seek and knock in Scripture's broader teaching on prayer.
And of course the emphasis here in verses 8 and 9 is precisely that we should ask, and that we should seek, and that we should knock, but it's absolutely critical that we couch this emphasis to ask, seek and knock in Scripture's broader teaching on prayer.
And of course the emphasis here in verses 8 and 9 is precisely that we should ask, and that we should seek, and that we should knock, but it's absolutely critical that we couch this emphasis to ask, seek and knock in Scripture's broader teaching on prayer.
Praying with reverence
For example, Hebrews chapter 5 says this about Jesus,

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

For example, Hebrews says this about Jesus in chapter 5,
For example, Hebrews says this about Jesus in chapter 5,
We're told that because of his reverence he was heard by God. The obvious implication here is that we are to approach God with reverence if we intend to be heard by him. And if you'll recall back in Mathew 6 during Jesus' instruction to his disciples on how we ought to pray, he says, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. ()
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 5:7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
And it's texts like these that answer the question, 'How should we pray?' We are to pray with a posture of submission and reverence - seeking to honor God as holy. And that answer informs our understanding of how we're to rightly understand and apply Jesus' teaching to ask, seek and knock here in .
So it's texts like these that answer the question, 'How should we pray?' We are to pray with a posture of submission and reverence - seeking to honor God as holy. And that answer informs our understanding of how we're to understand and apply Jesus' teaching to ask, seek and knock here in .
We're told that because of his reverence he was heard by God. The obvious implication here is that we are to approach God with reverence. And if you'll recall back in Mathew 6 during Jesus' instructions to his disciples on how to pray he says, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." So it's texts like these that answer the question, 'How should we pray?' And that answer informs our understanding of how we're to understand and apply Jesus' teaching to ask, seek and knock here in .
We're told that because of his reverence he was heard by God. The obvious implication here is that we are to approach God with reverence. And if you'll recall back in Mathew 6 during Jesus' instructions to his disciples on how to pray he says, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." So it's texts like these that answer the question, 'How should we pray?' And that answer informs our understanding of how we're to understand and apply Jesus' teaching to ask, seek and knock here in Matthew 7.
We're told that because of his reverence he was heard by God. The obvious implication here is that we are to approach God with reverence. And if you'll recall back in Mathew 6 during Jesus' instructions to his disciples on how to pray he says, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." So it's texts like these that answer the question, 'How should we pray?' And that answer informs our understanding of how we're to understand and apply Jesus' teaching to ask, seek and knock here in .
Understanding who we are, and who God is
We need to understand both who we are and who God is, and most importantly understand our relationship to God. That we are the creature and that he is our Creator. We should never approach God in a haughty manner or with a sense of entitlement. God is not a genie in a bottle. It is a most wonderful and surprising privilege that we as Christians can approach God in prayer, moreover, Jesus tell us that we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock. That God loves to give good gifts to his children. This should blow us away.
We need to understand both who we are and who God is, and most importantly understand our relationship to God. That we are the creature and that he is our Creator. We should never approach God in a haughty manner or with a sense of entitlement. God is not a genie in a bottle. It is a most wonderful and surprising privilege that we as Christians can approach God in prayer, moreover, Jesus tell us that we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock. That God loves to give good gifts to his children. This should blow us away.
We need to understand both who we are and who God is, and most importantly understand our relationship to God. That we are the creature and that he is the creator. We should never approach God in a flippant manner or with a sense of entitlement. Yes, we are encouraged to approach his throne of grace with boldness (without shame), but not in a disrespectful fashion. God is not a genie in a bottle who’s obligated to grant us our three wishes. He is both our Lord and our heavenly Father who loves his children.
So it’s a most wonderful and surprising privilege that we as Christians can approach God in prayer. In fact, Jesus tell us that we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock. That God loves to give good gifts to his children. This is what Jesus intends to communicate to his disciples here in .
Ask according to God’s will
The second question we have to answer in order to rightly understand these verses is 'What should we ask for?', or 'What should we seek after?’ Are we permitted to ask for whatever we want without restraint? Are verses 7 and 8 a blank check for us to fill in?
Well, like the first question there are biblical texts that answer this question. One of those is found in ,
The second question we have to answer in order to rightly understand these verses is 'What should we ask for?', or 'What should we seek after?' Like the first question there are other biblical texts that answer this question. One of those is found in ,
The second question we have to answer in order to rightly understand these verses is 'What should we ask for?', or 'What should we seek after?' Like the first question there are other biblical texts that answer this question. One of those is found in 1 John 5:14-15,
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Notice the second half of verse 14, "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." The key phrase here is, "according to his will". Our prayers and supplications are to be made according to his will. So when you read back in , verse 7, you might say it another way, "Ask [anything according to his will], and it will be given to you." But the reason I think Jesus doesn't include this phrase here is because his intention is to emphasize to his disciples that God loves to answer their prayer, that God loves to find what they're looking for, that God loves to respond to our petitions. However, the implication is that all of this ask, seeking and knocking will be done in accordance with seeking his will.
Notice the second half of verse 14, "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." The key phrase here is, "according to his will". Our prayers and supplications are to be made according to his will. So when you read back in , verse 7, you might say it another way, "Ask [anything according to his will], and it will be given to you."
It’s assumed you will ask, seek and knock according to God’s will
Notice the second half of verse 14, "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." The key phrase here is, "according to his will". Our prayers and supplications are to be made according to his will. So when you read back in , verse 7, you might say it another way, "Ask [anything according to his will], and it will be given to you." But the reason I think Jesus doesn't include this phrase here is because his intention is to emphasize to his disciples that God loves to answer their prayer, that God loves to find what they're looking for, that God loves to respond to our petitions. However, the implication is that all of this ask, seeking and knocking will be done in accordance with seeking his will.
Notice the second half of verse 14, "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." The key phrase here is, "according to his will". Our prayers and supplications are to be made according to his will. So when you read back in Matthew 7, verse 7, you might say it another way, "Ask [anything according to his will], and it will be given to you." But the reason I think Jesus doesn't include this phrase here is because his intention is to emphasize to his disciples that God loves to answer their prayer, that God loves to find what they're looking for, that God loves to respond to our petitions. However, the implication is that all of this ask, seeking and knocking will be done in accordance with seeking his will.
Now, the reason I think Jesus doesn't include a clarifier like this here in verse 7 is because his intention is to emphasize to his disciples that God loves to answer their prayers, that God loves to give to them what they're looking for, that God loves to respond to their petitions. However, the assumption that Jesus makes is that all of this asking, seeking and knocking will be done in accordance with pursuing his will.
Your kingdom come, your will be done

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

You might also recall back in that in verse 10 Jesus said, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The priority and aim of our prayers and supplications should be God's will and God's kingdom. We are not permitted to pray for just anything that might suite our fancy, or that runs contrary to God’s will for us. James in his letter to the church puts it bluntly in chapter 4, verse 3,

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Again, you might recall in Jesus' teaching on prayer back in Matthew 6 that in verse 10 he says, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The priority and aim of our prayers and supplications should be God's will and God's kingdom.
Again, you might recall in Jesus' teaching on prayer back in that in verse 10 he says, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The priority and aim of our prayers and supplications should be God's will and God's kingdom.
Now, many of us, may not think our prayers are quite this misguided, but the truth is, all of us are prone to confuse God’s will with our own. It’s easy for some of us to think we’re asking rightly, but in truth we’re asking God to build our kingdoms for our sake. Are we submitting the entirety of our lives to God’s will in prayer? Do we drive our prayer time or does the Holy Spirit?
Reading the text in context
So we approach God in reverence eagerly seeking after all good things that are in accordance with his will, and God is delighted to respond to such prayers. So it's with this understanding of prayer that we read again verses 7-8,
So we approach God in reverence eagerly seeking after all things that in accordance with his will. God is delighted to respond to such prayers. So it's with this understanding of prayer that we read again verses 7-11,

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

So we approach God in reverence eagerly seeking after all things that in accordance with his will. God is delighted to respond to such prayers. So it's with this understanding of prayer that we read again verses 7-11,
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Grounded in the goodness of our heavenly Father

And Jesus continues in verses 9-11 by saying,

9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

What Jesus is doing here is grounding the promise that God will respond to his people’s prayers, in the fatherly character of God. Jesus references God as our Father 17 times in his sermon on the mount. He tells his disciples to address God as their father in the Lord’s Prayer, he tells them to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect, he tells them to seek their heavenly Father’s approval, and to remember that their Father knows what they need even before they ask him.
Better than an earthly father
So in verse 9, in order to drive home his point, he reminds them that even earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. No father in their right mind would give their son a worthless stone after he’s asked for bread, nor would a father give their son a harmful snake after he’s asked for food. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Asking and God’s willingness to respond
This text boils down to two things 1) Jesus’ encouragement for us to ask and 2) Jesus’ promise that God will respond. You see, a robust confidence in God’s willingness to give his people all that they need is the antidote to worry (R.T. France). When we are fraught with anxiety, we are to run to our heavenly Father, we are to trust our heavenly Father, we are to ask him in faith for what we need, and trust in God’s willingness to give his us all that we need. Whether we’re asking for protection from temptation, earthly provision, the salvation of our children, or wisdom God is willing to respond. He will hear us and he will answer.

Asking for wisdom

I mentioned last week that much of the theme that undergirds chapter 7 is the subject of making right judgments and having discernment, so some have argued that Jesus’ encouragement here to ask, seek and knock is one that’s focused primarily on asking and seeking for wisdom. That this text echos the request recorded in James chapter 1, verse 5, that says,

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

I do think this is a plausible understanding of the text, especially here in Matthew, but I don’t think the context here is necessarily that restrictive. Jesus simply says, that our Father will “give good things to those who ask him,” rather than just things restricted specifically to wisdom and discernment. His words here are quite all encompassing, which means I have no doubt his words include encouraging his disciples to ask and seek for wisdom, but that they’re not restricted to only that.

The Golden Rule

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

However, when we read verse 12 in light of this theme of making right judgments we find it quite helpful. Jesus concludes his initial thoughts here in chapter 7, if not, in many ways, summarizes his entire sermon on the mount, with these words,

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Therefore, I believe it’s clear
A commandment for the redeemed
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
We, of course, know this as the infamous Golden Rule, to treat others as we would have them treat us. And the reason Jesus uses this statement to conclude everything that he’s just said is because it’s “a simple summary of how God wants His redeemed people to live (R.C. Sproul, Commentary).” It’s not a moralistic way to attain salvation as many people understand it to mean. The golden rule is first assumes you’re disciple of Christ, that you’re saved by the blood of the lamb, and it’s intended to be applied to the life of the believer as a rule to live by within the kingdom of God.
To love your neighbor as yourself
Later in Matthew chapter 22, starting in verse 34 we read,
Now, if you’ll turn with me to Matthew chapter 22, starting in verse 34 we’ll discover the origin of this principle,

The Great Commandment

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Notice specifically verse 39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a citation from the OT in , verse 18. It’s the same principle laid out here in the sermon on the mount, and Jesus says there in , verse 40, that “on these two commandments depend all of the Law and the Prophets.” And, again, what did Jesus say at the end of ?

for this is the Law and the Prophets.

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Judging one another as we ourselves would want to be judged, with charity
First, everything that Jesus has said up to this point in his sermon on the mount can be summarize by the second commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, and second, within the more immediate context of chapter 7, we are to treat others in the same way that we wish to be treated.
So everything that Jesus has said up to this point in his sermon on the mount can be summarize by the second commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, and within the more immediate context of chapter 7, we are to judge others in the same way that we wish to be judged.
If you’ll recall Jesus’ admonition to his followers was not to wrongfully condemn on another, but rather to rightly judge one another with charity, to judge one another according to the love we have for one another. So it’s fitting for Jesus to say to his disciples, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

Conclusion

So as God’s redeemed people let us count others more significant than ourselves in everything that we do, doing to others whatever we would wish that they would do to us. And as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven may we take heart that we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock, knowing that whenever we ask, that it will be given to us, and that whenever we knock that the Lord will answer. Let’s pray.

Prayer

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