These verses tucked in the middle of chapter 7 of Matthew give us some very simple guidance for our prayer lives. Ask, seek, knock. Throughout scripture God speaks of His desire for us to ask of Him, to seek Him, to pursue Him. To ask is to petition – to entreat, beg, implore. To seek means to desire, endeavor, require, pursue. To knock means literally to rap on a door, with a heavy blow. This has an element of persistent pursuit.
Doesn’t our Father already know what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8)? Yes, of course He does. Yet, as a good and sovereign Father who is always pursuing us, He wants us to come to Him – to acknowledge our need. Asking involves drawing near. Looking to Him. Seeking or searching something out builds intimacy. Knocking implies a boldness in coming and a willingness to be seen when the door opens. All of these require a willingness to lay aside our independence, and a belief that He has the answers we need. This is building relationship. This is what our Father is all about.
There is nothing in this promise from the mouth of Jesus in verse 8 that says the answers will come immediately. He only promises that we will receive. That we will find. That the door will be opened. So we must be willing to be persistent. To keep asking, to keep seeking, to keep knocking, believing that our Father loves us and WILL answer. To see the waiting as an opportunity for intimacy. This isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.
Now, what if Jesus gave this exhortation specifically for dealing with relationships? What I mean is this: in looking at the context, Jesus has just taught how we should treat one another when it comes to judging and focusing on others’ flaws and not our own (Matthew 7:1-5). He has taught that we should use discernment when sharing truth (7:6). He will sum up these relational exhortations in “a spiritual nutshell” (verse 12) when He says “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
What if it seems too difficult to do? What if the fight against our fleshly reactions to other people seems too great? What if we long for deep, authentic, mutually encouraging relationships with others, but feel as though we keep messing it up. What can we do? We can pray. Ask. Seek. Knock. We can press in and persistently pursue His answers. We can trust that our Father longs to give good gifts to those who ask Him, and learn to trust His heart even more as we wait.
Live Free. Live Loved.