Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
A second area in which Jesus distinguished between our wants and our needs is prayer. In Matthew 7, Jesus talked about the value of persistence in praying. Verse 7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” In the Greek, these verbs are in the present imperative: “Keep on asking; keep on seeking; keep on knocking.”
Now, this might sound contradictory to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:7: “When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” But Jesus was not talking about the same kind of repetition. You see, the Gentiles thought if they repeated the same meaningless mantra over and over again, they could force God to do something He did not want to do. Their words were empty. But in Matthew 7, Jesus was talking about the value of persistence. If God does not answer the first time you ask, keep on asking until He says yes or no to your request. God values that.
In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable “to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart” (v. 1). In this parable, a widow was being taken advantage of, so she went to the local judge for protection. The judge was an unbeliever, and he was unwilling to help. But the widow did not give up. She kept asking and asking, and finally the judge said, “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out” (vv. 4-5).
This is a parable of contrast. Jesus said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?” (vv. 6-7). In other words, if an unrighteous judge will act on behalf of a woman he has no relationship with, how much more will your Father in heaven do for His children? God honors persistence.
Sometimes God immediately answers our prayers, just as He did for Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Elijah was facing off against the prophets of Baal. They had built an altar to their false god, and Elijah had built an altar to the one true God. When Elijah prayed, God immediately sent fire from heaven to lap up his sacrifice. But the end of the chapter went a little differently. Israel had been in a drought for three years. So Elijah spread himself out on the ground and prayed for rain. He asked once, twice, three times–and only after the seventh time he prayed did a rain cloud appear. Sometimes God delays in answering our prayers, but we should not stop asking. “Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:8).
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Needs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org