“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”(Matthew 7:7-8).
What makes a prayer really a prayer? The saying of it? Or the hearing of it? Or is it the answering of it? Most Christians pray superficial and shallow prayers. We pray like children in a sandbox throwing up sand toward the sky.
Prayer is not a mystical gift which binds the hands of God to do as we wish. Prayer is the communication between a father and his child. Jesus Himself prayed constantly as an illustration to us, and He taught on prayer to help us understand and answer our questions. We know these verses well; most of us can quote them. But, in our familiarity, we may overlook important concepts. I believe, in these verses, Jesus Christ revealed three elements to real prayer. Each of these elements must be active for the prayer to reach fruition.
The Principle of Asking
“Ask, and it shall be given you…”
In verses 9 and 10 of Matthew 7, we see the child’s humble asking. He asks his father for bread and fish. The child knows his father can provide and has confidence that he will do so. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of me, and I will give thee…” And in Psalm 145:18 we read, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”
Prayer is not shopping for an answer; prayer is asking expectantly for an answer. Jesus taught us to ask, “Give us this day our daily bread…” The blind man called to Jesus by the way, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” When Jesus asked him his need, he said, “Lord, that I might receive my sight…” Peter, when sinking beneath the waves, said “Lord, save me.”
One would think that this principle would be a simple one. But, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). How many times have you heard someone say, “Why didn’t you just say so?” Sometimes it is hard to get to the point. The passenger who hails a cab must tell the driver where he wants to go. The lady who walks in the grocery store has a list. The Christian who would communicate with his Heavenly Father must ASK! Our prayers must not be like political speeches, with flowery language but saying nothing.
The first great principle of prayer is to ask.
The Principle of Abiding
“ … Seek, and ye shall find…”
The second great principle of answered prayer is to seek. This word, “zete”, means to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, and reasoning; to inquire into. God continually calls on His people to seek Him in His fullness.
“But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Jehovah, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2). “I love them that love me; And those that seek me diligently shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “Seek ye Jehovah while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). “And ye shall seek me, andfind me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “ … That he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” “Hebrews 11:6).
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