Studies In

The Sermon on the Mount

                                     "Ask ... Seek ... Knock"
                               Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13


I.    This text is a tremendous declaration of the Lord Jesus concerning a
       basic rule of life:  Fervent, persistent prayer.

II.   It, together with its parallel in Luke 11:9-13, affirms the wonderful
       truth that there is divine wisdom and divine aid available for the
       asking, to the child of God who seeks for it earnestly, persistently,
       and according to the will of God.

III. This lesson is an emphatic encouragement to heed the admonition in
       Luke 18:1: "That they ought always to pray, and not to faint."

IV.  The Bible teaches over and over (1) that God hears prayer (1 Peter
       3:12); (2) that prayer unlocks the door to heavenly treasure to the
       people of God (Mark 11:22-24);  (3) that God answers the fervent
       prayers of his children who cry to him day and night (Luke 18:7);  (4)
       that persistent prayer, by the righteous, is essential and certain to be
       rewarded (I John 5:14,15; Hebrews 4:14-16).

V.   There is power in believing prayer to change your life (John 15:7;
       James 1:5-8).


	(Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9)

   A.   Jesus encourages prayer:  "Ask, and it shall be given you;
          seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto
          you."  (7)

         1.   Though not limited to prayer, the principle taught here by the
               Lord has to do primarily with earnest, persistent, Christian
               petition to the throne of grace.

         2.   The terms "," express progression in
               intensity of desire.

         3.   "Asking" with the voice simply expresses desire for what one
               needs; "seek" describes pursuit or search with the entire
               being; "knock" is emphatically asking for admission through
               a door hitherto locked against him who seeks entry in spite
               of hindrances.

   B.   The supreme tragedy of today is perhaps the fact 
	(1) that there is such an abundance of heavenly supplies 
	available for the asking,
	(2) that Jesus has such great authority and desire to grant these
          	supplies to all who ask, seek, and knock, 
	(3) that needy humanity is suffering in such dire spiritual 
	poverty, but 
	(4) that there is such tragic failure to pray, largely 
	because they feel no need of prayer, have no high hopes 
	or lofty spiritual ambitions or noble dreams, and are satisfied, 
	evidently with life just like it is. 

          Feeling no need of anything from God, recognizing no spiritual
          hunger, they ask for practically nothing.  Their burning desires
          are directed toward "things which are seen" and cannot satisfy.

	(Matthew 7:8; Luke 11:10)

   A.   Assurance repeated:  "For every one that asketh receiveth;
          and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall
          be opened."  (8)

         1.   The precept enjoined is triple; the assurance of Jesus is six

         2.   "Every one" of those included in the category of whom Jesus
               was speaking: i.e., his true disciples, who can say, "Our
               Father who art in heaven"  (6:9).

         3.   "These words are far more than a promise to answer prayer;
               and, depending on what men pray for, they may be even a
               threat."  Coffman.

         4.   Though not stated here, the conditions of prevailing prayer
               elsewhere taught are necessarily implied here (Matthew
               6:14,15; James 1:6,7; 4:3; 1 John 5:14).

   B.   The effective power of prayer to God's child is herein repeated.

         1.   To "ask" implies an admission of need and a sense of
               dependence, definitely expressed to a person who can supply
               said need.

        2.   To "seek" is to engage in the divinely approved method of
               pursuit by which God has promised to supply our needs; it is
               committing oneself to the whole-hearted effort necessary
               to receive (1 Peter 4:19).

        3.   To "knock" is to use "the golden key that unlocks God's great
               store house"  (cf. Luke 11:5-8).

   C.   Let us not limit God's ability to supply our needs (Philippians
          4:19) by lack of living faith or failure to pray (Luke 18:8).

	(Matthew 7:7-11; cf. Luke 11:11-13)

   A.   What man: "Or what man is there of you, who, if his son
          shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?" (9)

         1.   This argument from analogy is in the form of a rhetorical

         2.   It depends for its force upon the known feeling that fathers
               generally have for doing good to their children.

         3.   Far from denying his child the necessary food for which he
               asks, earthly fathers normally are eager to give them good

   B.   Serpent for fish:  "Or if he shall ask for a fish, will he give
          him a serpent?" (10)

         1.   Luke 11:12 adds: "Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give
               him a scorpion?"

         2.   The Lord's argument here, from predictable human conduct,
               affirms God's likeness to man who was created in his image
               (Genesis 1:27).

         3.   This is true even of sinful men, who readily give what they
               consider good gifts to their children who cry to them.

   C.   How much more:  "If ye then, being evil, know how to give
          good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your
          Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask
          him?" (11)

         1.   God's wisdom in giving is here emphasized rather than his
               willingness:  Omniscient God "knows how" to give good gifts
               to his children much more than human fathers, "being evil."

         2.   God is much more knowing than earthly parents (Romans
               11:33-36); much more kind (Psalm 27:10; 1 John 4:8); and
               much more wealthy in his ability to bless (James 1:17;
               Ephesians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 2:18; 7:25).

         3.   It is interesting to learn the Bible's teaching concerning the
               kinship between God and man (Romans 8:16-17); 
               1 John 3:1-3), as well as the contrasts between them  
               (Isaiah 55:8,9;  59:1,2).

         4.   McGarvey correctly points out the danger in the fallacious
               reasoning of some in concluding that, because God's feeling
               for his children is like ours in the one particular Jesus here
               mentions, that, therefore, because the paternal feeling in
               man would prevent him from punishing his own children with
               eternal punishment, God's paternal feeling for his children
               disproves the reality of the eternal punishment which God
               himself threatens.  "The fallacy of the argument consists in
               assuming that the feeling in question must work the same
               results in every particular in God that it does in man.  But
               revelation teaches that such is not the case."   J.W.
               McGarvey, Commentary on Matthew-Mark, p.71.

         5.   "Luke 11:13, in the parallel passage, says, instead of 'good
               things,' 'the Holy Spirit,' as though this is heaven's greatest
               blessing."  B.W. Johnson, People's N.T. With Notes, I, p.47.


I.   It is a mistake to think God cannot answer prayer without working a
      miracle.  God is able to provide for his children (Matthew 6:26-33),
      and he does grant their requests, but it is according to his
      laws spiritual and natural.

II.  "Knocking" is a must for our prayers to be answered:  To "knock"
      means (1) asking, (2) plus effort, (3) plus persistence in seeking,
      according to Jesus, in the parable of the friend at midnight (Luke

III. Because our requests are sometimes amiss, unwise, lacking in
      fervency, and because the nature of some requests means a
      necessary delay, it is essential that we persist in prayer.

   A.   "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer...."
          (Philippians 4:6,7).

   B.   "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17; cf. Ephesians
                                                                      --   Charles E. Crouch

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