MEDITATIONS ON JESUS’ SERMON ON THE MOUNT: MATTHEW’S GOSPEL, CHAPTERS FIVE THROUGH SEVEN
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:7-12).
When friends or neighbors want to let us know that they are willing to help us, they will sometimes say, “Just ask.” They want to assure us that they will not be annoyed if we ask for their help, and they will welcome the opportunity to be of assistance.
This kind of sincere assurance is most welcome, making it easier to ask for someone’s help when we need it.
If we welcome such an invitation from a friend or neighbor, how much more should we not welcome Jesus’ invitation when He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you”? The Savior’s willingness and ability to help far exceed that of any person in this world who might make us such an offer.
The Lord Jesus also knows His believing children’s weaknesses and their vulnerability to doubt and fear. We are always in need of encouragement when it comes to prayer. He encourages us first by inviting us—not once but three times! And by adding the invitations to “seek” and “knock,” He is giving us permission to be persistent.
Jesus does not want us to be discouraged in our praying when the answer that we are looking for does not come quickly. He does not want us to judge Him by the standards of men, who soon become annoyed with someone who comes back repeatedly with the same request.
Jesus follows up His threefold invitation with a threefold promise to His believing children. Everyone who in response to this invitation comes to the heavenly Father with a prayer will surely receive an answer. Whoever seeks the Father’s help will surely find it. Whoever knocks at the Father’s door will find it opened.
To further encourage us in prayer, Jesus gives the illustration of a father answering his child’s requests for something to eat. The request is for basic food that the child needs to live, grow, and thrive. The child here is not asking for candy, desserts, chips, or soda; he is asking for bread or fish.
What parent would refuse such a request from a hungry child? What parent would respond to a child’s request by giving something useless like a stone, or something harmful like a snake or a scorpion?
If such is the case with human parents who are sinners and tend to be selfish, then how can we doubt that God will give us what we need when we ask Him?
What the Father gives in response to our prayers will always be “good things.” Human parents generally know how to give good gifts to their children, as Jesus says, but their gifts are not always good. Parents sometimes indulge their children with gifts that not only do not help them but may even be harmful.
By contrast, our heavenly Father’s gifts are always good, always just what we need.
God, who is so good and gracious in answering the prayers of His believing children, would also have them act toward others in the same spirit, doing to them whatever we would want them to do to us.
In this way we show that we are true children of the Heavenly Father.