Jesus taught us to be answers to our own prayers when, in the Sermon on the Mount, He told His disciples, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
When reading Matthew 7:7-8, most people think that Jesus was saying the same thing three different times: pray, and your prayer will get answered. In other words they read “Ask, seek, knock” as “Pray, pray, and pray again.”
But there may be a better way of understanding the words of Jesus.
Jesus is not simply telling His disciples to pray, but is giving them instructions on how to see answers to their own prayers.
First, Jesus tells them to ask. This is the prayer part. It is taking our requests and needs to God, and presenting them before Him. It is not that He is unaware of our needs, for He knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).
Just as we talk over the issues of our day with our spouse or friends, so also God wants us to communicate with Him about the issues and needs which are heavy on our hearts and minds. So, we ask Him about these things. This is the first step to prayer.
But after we ask, we don’t simply keep asking. We must begin to seek. This is the second step. Seeking is when we look around for how God might answer our prayers. After we ask God for something, the next thing we must do is start looking around with eyes of faith for how God might be providing answers to the issues we discussed with Him.
Seeking answers to our prayers leads to the third step in getting our prayers answer: knocking. After we ask God to help us with our needs, and as we seek for possible ways that God might answer our requests, we must then step out in faith and knock on the doors that present themselves. When we ask, we ask with faith.
When we seek, we seek possible answers with eyes of faith. And when we knock, we step out and take risks with faith by pursuing opportunities that were brought to our attention during the seeking phase.
Sometimes the first door we knock on is the one that opens, but this is usually not the case. Sometimes we have to knock on ten, fifty, even hundreds of doors.
For this reason, the knocking phase is often the most difficult, but it is here that perseverance is vitally important if we are going to see answers to our prayers.
Want to see more answers to prayer?
Don’t just ask God for things. Step out and seek ways that He might answer them, and then knock on the doors of opportunity that are presented.
In this way, praying is more than just asking God for things and then sitting around, waiting for Him to respond.
Do you want to pray like never before?
Do you what to talk to God like you talk to a friend? Do you want to see more answers to prayer?
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Harold Shuckhart says
Praying is a bit silly. God knows everything, including what people are need. If it is God’s will, He will give the people what they need. If it is not God’s will, He will not give them what they need. If God were a loving God and not some heartless monster, He would arrange to supply people’s needs. Every day, millions of children die for lack of a cup of clean water or a little bread. Where is God?
Jeremy Myers says
Lots of people use this as an objection to prayer, but as CS Lewis points out (I think it is in his on Work and Prayer), nobody would ever use this excuse about taking an umbrella with us when it looks like it is going to rain (Well, God knows what is best. If he wants me to get wet, I’ll get wet. If He wants me to stay dry, He’ll keep back the rain) or planting a field for a crop (Well, God knows if I should have a harvest from this field this fall. So if He wants me to have a harvest, He will plant, water, and tend the field. If not, well, I guess He’ll let it go to weeds).
In this way, prayer is a type of work, but which is not bound by space and time. Which is why, of course, as you point out, it is silly to pray for something good to happen if we are unwilling to life a finger to help it take place. If we are not willing to be answers to our own prayers, we have no business praying about them. So it is not really, “Where is God?” but rather, “Where are the Christians?”
At least, this is the way I look at it….
To you, he is only in your dreams and with that attitude that’s where he will stay
Clive Clifton says
Harold am I hearing you say that God is capricious.
Prayer should be a conversation not a list of demands.
A friend of mine who is a self professed atheist said to me once, the most stupid question people ask is Why. He said we spend most of our time doing this, we never get a satisfactory answer and live our whole lives wondering. Just live your life, this is IT, don’t waste it, Live It.
Well he would think that wouldn’t he. As for the Christian, we believe it’s a requirement to ask the question why and urgently seek the answer through knocking at Heavens door wherein lies the answers to all questions. Unless we have a strong relationship with God we will never know how God works in and through this fallen world.
I believe God is also asking us the why question (in His case He knows the answer) He continues to seek, search out the lost and continues to knock on our hearts door. When Jesus gave us the parable of the persistent neighbor He was also talking about His Dad. Being persistent and continuous in conversation with our heavenly Father is an essential to know Him better and through that knowing will change the way we approach His throne. Not demanding or crawling but in reverence. Don’t you think He cry’s more tears than we ever could, for one lost life.
No one is to blame, thats judgement. We need to stop wringing our hands and start using them for others.
Father we love you, we worship and adore you, help us to glorify your name in all the earth.
Thanks for the article. I appreciate the discussion.
I was just thinking of what the difference is between asking, seeking and knocking. Here was my thinking (right or wrong):
Ask: Is to poise the question. Having an inquisitive mind and open heart is an important first step to real learning.
Seek: Is to search for answers. The scriptures are the most important source to search for answers.
Knock: Is to pray with real intent. To ask and seek helps to prepare minds to learn and our hearts to understand. When we knock as this point we are better prepared to receive the answers and guidance we need.
Jeremy Myers says
Hmmm. So for you, the praying part doesn’t really begin until the Knocking? It is an interesting idea. When we have a question to ask, we first seek answers in Scripture, and then knock on heaven’s door (so to speak) for the guidance.
jack kityo says
i want to learn how to pray.
Pray for my son. Mental and diabetes issues are destroying his life. Things seem to not get better no matter how hard I pray or beg for others to pray for us.