“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” ESV Matthew 7:7
We are a demanding society. I heard a great example of our demanding attitude the other day as I was listening to a sermon by Alistair Begg. He says that you need to walk no further than your local coffee shop or restaurant to see just how demanding we are. Just approach the counter and listen as people place their orders and you’ll here phrases like ‘give me a _____, or I’ll take a _____, or mine is a _____.’ Gone it seems are the days of patience and the common courtesy associated with the word please or phrase may I?. No, we want what’s ours and we want it now!
My fear is that we are equally demanding and discourteous of God when we go to him in prayer. How often have we prayed: God, give me _____; God, here’s what I need; or God, here’s what would ease my mind. But, one might argue, our verse from Matthew 7 is pretty simple and straightforward isn’t it? Ask, seek and knock and it is yours for the taking, right? Well, not exactly.
Matthew Henry places this verse in proper perspective by noting that ask, seek and knock should be properly interpreted to mean: “Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms.” My ESV Study Bible links the same words (ask, seek and knock) with humility, action, and persistence on our part. Notice the total absence of a demanding tone in either explanation, and rightly so. God is not in the “name it and claim it” business.
As I read the prayers of Saints in scripture, even prayers of Jesus Himself, one thing stands out; their prayers and requests were ultimately for the glory of God. Read the prayers of Moses and you’ll find that while he often prayed for the deliverance and well being of the Hebrews, he always qualified his request so that God would be glorified by answering it. The same could be said of King David. David often prayed for personal deliverance from perils and hardships but he always asked in a way that would give God glory by answering him. Even Jesus, when he prayed in Gethsemane before his betrayal, made his request known to the Father and then added, “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Now friends, if even the saints of old and the son of God Himself make their requests known to God with humility and earnest desire that God the Father receive the glory in answering them, shouldn’t we do the same?
So yes, ask, seek and knock just like Matthew 7:7 says, just be mindful to do so with God’s glory as your ultimate aim and not your personal gratification.