Keep Asking, Searching, Knocking – Matthew 7:7-12

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among 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 snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets. (HCSB)

This passage is easy to misunderstand and is often abused by the heretical teaching of those pushing the prosperity or the “name it and claim it” gospel. I pray that by the end of this lesson, you will understand that Jesus is not teaching that.

Another critical point is that in the context of this passage, as well as the entire Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking to the disciples. This is the first requirement in this passage on answered prayer.

Verses 7-8

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Let’s make some observations about these first two verses.

  • When we come to God in prayer, we should have an expectant attitude. Our heavenly Father is perfect and wants to bless His children.
  • The terms ask, seek, and knock are all metaphors for prayer.
  • There is symmetry in the structure of these two verses and the verbs used.
    • There is a triplet of commands: ask, seek, knock.
    • There is a triplet of affirmations: receives, finds, opened.
    • Ask, seek, and knock are all present tense verbs.
    • Will be given, will find, and will be opened are all future tense verbs.
    • Receives and finds are present tense while will be opened are future tense.
  • Although there is some disagreement on whether the terms ask, seek, and knock mean exactly the same thing, it appears a better conclusion is that there is an increasing level of intensity when praying to God.
    • Ask – suggests an attitude of humility and need.
    • Seek – suggests responsible activity in following God’s will.
    • Knock – suggests perseverance in asking and seeking.
  • Jesus is telling the disciples that they need to be persistent in their prayers.
    • Ask the Father continually in a spirit of need, understanding that everything comes from God.
    • Seeking God’s will on a continual basis to guide our lives.
    • Knocking with a relentless determination to receive an answer.
  • Since this passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, the contextual understanding and application must be made by applying everything that Jesus had said previously. This brings us back to the “Disciple’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13.
    • Verse 10b Your will be done.
    • Our prayers are answered when they align with God’s will.
      • Asking for a Mercedes likely won’t get answered…unless God really wants you to have a Mercedes. Even then, I would ask that you consider if you really need it or you just want it. Consider how you could bless Kingdom work by settling for a less expensive vehicle.
      • This same principle can be applied to anything that could be considered a battle between wants and needs.
      • 1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
      • 1 John 3:22 And can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
      • John 15:7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
    • God may answer our prayer in a way we didn’t expect.
      • We pray for healing for a family member or friend, and instead, they pass away. If that person is a believer, God has healed them in the most perfect way. They no longer experience pain or suffering.
      • We pray for a promotion or a particular type of job. We do get a job offer, but it was not what we were desiring.
    • God will answer our prayers, or maybe not answer them, in alignment with His will. When we pray in alignment with God’s will, we can be assured that it will be answered in His time.

Verses 9-11

What man among 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 snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

A quick summary of these three verses before digging into them more. If sinful parents know how to provide and take care of their children, how much more will a perfect and infinitely holy God provide for and take care of His children? This is especially true in today’s world, where there is so much abuse, neglect, and mistreatment from parents.

In these verses, Jesus uses imagery that would have resonated with the hearers of this message given along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

  • The stones along the shore of the sea were round limestone and in appearance were quite similar to the round loaves of bread common in Jesus’ day.
  • Although the term “snake” is used here, it is more likely that Jesus was referring to an eel, a snake-like fish. However, according to Jewish dietary laws, eels could not be eaten. Leviticus 11:12 Everything in the water that does not have fins and scales will be detestable to you.
  • In each comparative case, a parent would be mocking their child if they gave them a rock or eel to satisfy their hunger. In the first example, the stone is inedible, and in the second, they were forbidden by Jewish law to eat it.

God desires to give His children good gifts, but our behavior and actions prevent or delay the bestowing of these gifts. But just as being in the right relationship and desiring His will affects our prayer life, this also carries over into how He gives His children gifts.

Verse 12

Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.

This verse is known as the “Golden Rule” and advocates relationships built upon mutual respect and conduct.

As Jesus approaches the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, He describes Kingdom expectations in one principle. It also brings full circle the statement that Jesus made in Matthew 5:17 Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Jesus’ teaching throughout the Sermon on the Mount fulfills the Law and the Prophets, while the Golden Rule sums up the Law and the Prophets.

  • Leviticus 19:18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
  • Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Matthew 22:37-40 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

Paul also restates this principle.

  • Romans 13:8-10 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and whatever other commandment – are all summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus’ teaching in the Golden Rule highlights two significant points about stability in the lives of Christians.

  • Stability increases as disciples understand and practice depending on their heavenly Father, the only unshakeable in this troubled world. Whatever needs a person may have, they must cultivate a healthy dependence on God. Loving God means we trust Him to take care of us.
  • Stability also increases as we develop a healthy commitment to sacrifice and help those around us. To truly love others means we help them. When mutual love exists, they can completely trust each other to satisfy their needs. When that love and trust are linked with trust in God, disciples should never have to think about their needs being met; they will be met in a loving community of fellow believers who radiate the Father’s commitment to take care of us.

In effect, this statement concludes the Sermon on the Mount as in the concluding verses, Matthew 7:13-27, Jesus calls upon all who hear the message to make a decision. Either they will follow Him, or they are against Him.

Let’s look at how we can apply this passage to our lives.

  • How is your prayer life?
    • Do you seek to pray in accordance with God’s will, or are your prayers of a selfish nature?
    • Are you persistent in your prayers, or do you give up easily?
    • Always remember that God may answer your prayer in a way you didn’t anticipate or even don’t like. Those moments are a test of our faith. Will we trust God that He knows what’s best for us or others, or will we complain or even become bitter because we didn’t get our way?
    • If sinful parents provide for their children, a perfect and loving God will certainly provide for our needs.
  • Do you live out the Golden Rule?
    • Do you treat others will love and respect?
    • Do you help those around you when they have needs?
    • Do you sacrifice for others?
    • If you could watch a video of yourself interacting with others, would you feel good about what you see, or would you hang your head in shame that didn’t shine the light of Christ?

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