I’m going to look at the 3 aspects of this verse (asking, seeking and knocking) over the next few weeks as they are all slightly different.
This verse, like quite a few others we have looked at recently, has been misinterpreted and taken out of context.
It has been misused by people who take this verse to mean we can ask for whatever we want. You may have heard of the phrase ‘name it and claim it’. Basically the idea is that we can ask for whatever we want and as long as we have enough faith and enough tenacity we will get it. People have taken it to extremes to ask for cars, houses, boats, lottery wins… you name it they’ll claim it!
In the context of what Jesus has already been speaking about, this cannot be the application. He has already been speaking about providing for our material ‘needs’ but has never suggested that we can ask for everything we want. This verse comes soon after Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and I believe in these verses He is encouraging us to pray and ask for spiritual blessings. Let’s look at the parallel passage in Luke 11 which is more specific;
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)
So it is the Holy Spirit we are to ask for. The Holy Spirit is the source of all our spiritual blessings and greatest joy. So much better than any material possessions we could ever acquire.
Today’s word is simply ‘ask’, which highlights our relationship we are to have with our heavenly father. Throughout the bible it is clear that God loves to have a relationship with us and us coming to him and asking Him is a great way of maintaining and even strengthening that relationship. I immediately think of my own relationship as a parent with my children and how I love to give them things when they come to me and ask.
We can often think of prayer as a last resort, after we have tried every other avenue with our own resources. But God wants us to come to Him first. It would actually save an awful lot of trouble. I’m sure we would see a lot more answers to our prayers if we did so. The actual phrase is in what is called the ‘present imperative’ so the phrase should be ‘keep on asking’.
The word ‘ask’ is found 71 times in the New Testament alone and many times in the Old Testament such as:
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:8)
It is God’s invitation. He has taken the initiative by saying we can ask, it is now down to us to actually do the asking.
I’ll leave you with a thought provoking verse on this subject from James;
You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2)