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Cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande in autumn, New Mexico

“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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are 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!”

~Matthew 7:7-11

Matthew 7:7 may be one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, and yet, ironically, one of the least to be actually understood and carried out in a believer’s life.

Why do I say that? Well, in my limited experience, I’ve heard that verse quoted and seen it engraved on plaques and statues, hung in churches and homes, and adorning jewelry and pictures to no end. But very rarely have I heard a Christian talk about the concepts of that verse as being real and true in their life, about how God has been rewarding their diligent practice of asking, seeking, and knocking.

When was the last time you heard a fellow Christian say, “Hey, I want to tell you about how God has been making this verse come alive in my life…how He’s been giving to me when I ask, and answering me when I seek and knock on the doors in my life”?

Okay, so maybe they wouldn’t say it in exactly those words, but that’s the idea.

They’ve been asking; God has been giving. They’ve been seeking–and finding what they seek. They’ve been knocking; doors have been opening.

Why are true spiritual success stories like that usually relegated to the occasional Reader’s Digest story or limited to the “mighty giants” of the faith who come around once or twice in a generation?

According to Jesus, this is supposed to be an everyday kind of thing for Christians. He honestly doesn’t make it sound so complicated. Just ask; just seek; just knock; and you will find the answers you need. So why is this verse so intimidating to us?

Is it one of those things where we think, “Okay, so yes, Jesus said it, so it must be true, but it’s just too good to be true for me”… or “He must not have meant it for common, everyday Christians like me”? Is it something that we really wish was true for us, but we never see any evidence of it happening in our lives or the lives of people around us, so we conveniently shove it under the rug except for those times when we bring it out in our jewelry and decor, because, after all, it is part of the Bible?

I do understand that kind of problematic thinking, because I’ve been there a lot. We read something in the Bible, but we don’t see much evidence for it, so what do we do? We don’t want to deny that it’s true; we’re not going to call God a liar. So we try to avoid it or ignore it for the most part and focus on the parts of the Bible that we do understand.

Like I said, this verse is not complicated. It’s a simple concept; unfortunately, simple things are not always easy.

And I concede that I don’t always see Matthew 7:7 being demonstrated in the church. Christians ask God a lot of things; they seek a lot and knock on a whole lot of doors; but not a lot of answers appear.

If it’s true, if Jesus meant what He said about asking, seeking, and knocking, then why don’t we see many results to our asking, seeking, and knocking?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. But it’s often greatly helpful in explaining one thing in scripture by comparing it to other parts of scripture. So here are a few of my own thoughts based on what God says in His word.

1. Perhaps the answer is simpler than we think. James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

What if one reason we are not seeing answers is that we are just not asking? As strange as that might sound, it really does happen. Why would anyone fail to take that first, obvious step in seeking for God’s help? It could be for several reasons. Maybe you already have it engrained in your mind that whatever you want is just too impossible to even hope for, so you don’t even bother to ask God. Maybe you’re not the type to seek outside help; you’ve always been your own self-reliant person and you find it unnatural to go to God for anything.

No matter the reason, the problem could be in the fact that we just aren’t seriously asking God for His answers and provision. Maybe we’ve been wishing or hoping for answers, but we haven’t truly asked Him for them.

2. What if you are asking God, but you’re still not seeing any answers?

James continues on to reveal, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (4:3).

Consider your motive for asking. Often we desire things that may not be wrong in themselves, but perhaps our motive for asking is in some way selfish or impure. Maybe God, in His wisdom, knows that were He to grant our wish, we would blow His good gift on ourselves foolishly; as the KJV says, “consume it upon [our] lusts.”

Our Father is good and kind, and He wants to give us what is good and right for us, but sometimes that means waiting until the right time, when we are ready to receive it and use it in the best manner.

3. Speaking of timing, that’s another very probable reason you might not be seeing immediate answers to your requests. God could be waiting until just the perfect time to bestow His perfect solution to your problem. But just because you aren’t seeing answers right away, that doesn’t mean you can stop praying. On the contrary, it needs to spur you on to continued, fervent prayer. You can’t give up! Keep on asking, just like the widow in Jesus’ parable who persistently pleaded her case to the unrighteous judge (Luke 18:1-8). Keep on believing that God is able and willing, and that He will give His answer in His timing.

4. Jesus also brought up something else eye-opening during His ministry.

In Matthew 9, two blind men came to Jesus to be healed. He asked them first if they believed He could do it. When they confirmed that they did believe, Jesus touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.”

Jesus could have just healed them without bothering to find out if they actually believed He could do it. I mean, Jesus doesn’t need our belief in order to enable Him to do anything. But in this case it was important that they believed.

According to your faith let it be done to you.

So, even though Jesus doesn’t need our faith, it seems that He often enjoys working through our faith anyway. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him through faith (Hebrews 11:6).

As Hebrews 11:1 says in the Amplified Bible, “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”

The King James Version says faith is the “substance” of things we hope for.

That’s truly incredible. Faith like that is more than just a blind, wavering hope. It is knowing something without a doubt. And that is the kind of faith that will move mountains, the kind of faith that brings the invisible into reality.

I think that’s the kind of faith Jesus is looking for when we ask, seek, and knock. He’s looking for an unwavering childlike belief that can stand up to all manner of doubt, insecurity, fear, and anxiety that may rage against us. He’s looking for a certainty in Himself, and in who He is regardless of circumstance.

I honestly understand that sometimes our faith seems so small and weak, or not there at all, and we think we can never find that kind of faith inside us. But He doesn’t expect us to move from a weak, baby faith to a solid-as-an-oak faith overnight, just like that. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s a process of growth and getting to know God and His character. Because once we start to really know Him personally, that faith will come as a result. If you truly know someone, you will start to trust them more and more.

All it takes is little bit of faith to start doing great things with God. Jesus told His disciples, “…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

I don’t know if this has answered any of your questions, but I hope it was at least a little helpful.

Also I didn’t have the time and space to list every single verse in scripture that refers to this topic, but maybe this will give you a place to start in your own spiritual life.

Here are some additional verses that might be helpful to look up:
– I John 5:14-15 (Asking according to His will)
– 1 John 3:21-24 (Keeping God’s commands)
– Matthew 18:19-20 (Agreeing with others in prayer)
– Mark 11:22-25 (Faith and forgiveness)
– John 14:12-14 (Asking in Jesus’ name)
– John 16:19-24 (Receiving so your joy will be complete)
– Ephesians 3:20-21 (God is able to do far above what we ask or think)

Again, I still don’t understand it completely, not by any means. I often struggle with doubts and worries about asking God for anything. But I do know this — and I’ve already mentioned this several times — but, I know that God is a good, perfect Father; He wants to give us good things, and even though we will struggle with difficulties and hardships throughout our lives, He will always show His strength and power through them and cause them to turn out for the best in every circumstance.

So let that be the impetus that drives you forward in your journey of asking, seeking, and knocking.


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