Matthew 7:7-11 “Just Ask!”

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 30 Oct 2011


7:7 Continue to ask, and it will be given to y’all.

      Continue to search, and y’all will find.

      Continue to knock, and it will be opened up to you.

            7:8 For every one who is asking is receiving, and
                   the one who is searching is finding, and

                   to the one who is knocking it is being opened up!

7:9 Now say there’s a man from among y’all whose son is going to ask for bread; what will he hand to him – it won’t be a stone, will it?

7:10 Or say he’s going to ask for a fish; [what] will he hand to him – it won’t be a snake will it?

7:11 Therefore, if y’all, while being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to the ones who ask Him?

Introduction: Samir’s Midnight Friend

·         I intend to exposit Matthew 7:7, but I want to start with the parallel passage in Luke 11:5-9 (NASB)
Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and from inside he answers and says, “Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

·         After talking about fasting and treasure and mammon and birds and lilies and logs in your eye and judging, why does Jesus suddenly tell us to ask, seek, and knock? I believe it is an echo of the Lord’s Prayer from chapter 6, and that Jesus is offering His followers hope through prayer to get the help we need to actually obey the many difficult commands He has just given.

o       “How shall we ever be able to carry out such precepts as these, of tender, holy, yet discrimin­ating love? might the humble disciple inquire. ‘Go to God with it,’ is our Lord’s reply...” ~Jamieson Fausset and Brown

o       He gives us three commands to get the help we need (Ask, seek, and knock), and two reasons why we should take hold of these helps:

Command #1: Ask

7:7a Αἰτεῖτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν,

Continue to ask, and it will be given to y’all.

·         Word study on aitew

The Bible is full of examples of people asking other people for things:

o       2 Samuel 12:20 So David… came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

o       Acts 16:29 And he [the Philippian jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,

o       Acts 3:2 And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.

o       Exodus 11:2 "…each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold."

o       Joshua 15:18 It came about that when she [Achsah] came to him [Caleb], she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" He gave her the land she requested with springs on it as a wedding present, and her request ended up defining the boundaries of the tribe of Judah.

o       Joshua 19:50 In accordance with the command of the LORD they gave him [Caleb] the city for which he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. So he built the city and settled in it.

o       Nehemiah 13:6 But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to the king. After some time, however, I asked leave from the king,

Some things people asked other people for in the Bible were bad:

o       1 Samuel 8:10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king.

o       Micah 7:3 Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe, And a great man speaks the desire of his soul; So they weave it together.

o       Matthew 14:6-7 When Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Heroditas danced before them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. [Salome and her mom asked for John the Baptizer to be decapitated.]

o       Luke 23:23 But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.

o       Acts 25:15 and when I [Governor Festus] was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him [Paul], asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.

And then there are examples of people asking God for things:

o       Psalm 105:40 As they were wandering out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, the children of Israel got hungry and “asked, and He brought quail, And [God] satisfied them with the bread of heaven.”

o       1 Chronicles 4:10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested.

o       Hannah’s request for a son was rewarded in the birth of the great prophet Samuel: 1 Samuel 1:17,20 Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him." …It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked him of the LORD."

o       Zechariah 10:1 Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain-- The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.

o       Proverbs 30:7 Two things I [Augur] asked of You… keep deception and lies far from me, and give me neither poverty nor riches

o       Psalm 2:8 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.


o       1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you." … 11 God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice… 13 I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.”

o       Isaiah 58:2 "Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.

o       Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

o       James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.


o       John 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

o       John 15:7, 16 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you… You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”

o       John 16:23-24 “…Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

o       1 John 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

o       1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

o       Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”

o       Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”

o       Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus… said, “…if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

o       Ephesians 3:20 [God] is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…

Eternal life

o       John 4:9-10 Therefore the Samaritan woman *said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

o       Psalm 21:4 He asked life of You, You gave it to him, Length of days forever and ever.

o       Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

o       Ask it for others too! 1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

Not everything people asked God for was a good idea:

o       Deuteronomy 18:16 "This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.'”

o       1 Kings 19:4 But he [Elijah] himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."

o       The whole council of scripture teaches us that there are limits to what we should ask for and expect to receive from God:

o       Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him: [That James and John be seated at the right and left hand of Jesus in heaven. Jesus chides her for this.]

o       James 4:2-3 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend it on your pleasures.

I only found one place in the Bible where God “asks” anything of anybody:

o        Deuteronomy 10:12 "Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

·         So ask for what you need to fulfill God’s will. Jesus has commanded us to ask.

·         Also note that this imperative is in the Present tense, which in Greek means not just one-time but continuous action.

o       Later on in v.8, Jesus says that the one who asks is the one who gets, once again using the present tense to indicate that the ones who receive are not just those who ask once but who ask over and over.

§         No, “... His hear is not so dull that it cannot hear.” (Isa 59:1)

§         In fact, Jesus already told us earlier in Matthew 6:8b “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

§         I suggest that the repetition is for our own benefit. Praying repeatedly integrates into our thinking an attitude of trust in God to provide for all of our needs so that our trust in God continues to grow over time. It is this kind of whole-heartedness that God says He wants to see in us: 2 Chron. 16:9  "…the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

o       “Asking implies humility and a consciousness of need.” In Jesus’ parable of the two men in the temple, the Pharisee doesn’t ask God for anything, whereas the tax-collector pleads, “God be merciful to me, the sinner.” ~Wm. Hendriksen

o       So, would God call you an “asker”? Are you a person who is characterized by asking God for what you need to do His will?

o       If not, there’s one way to correct that, and that is to start asking! Ask God for wisdom, ask Him for material provisions, keep telling Him you want His eternal life and you want to dwell with Him in his house forever, and ask for anything else, too!

o       “Men pay a fair penalty for their indolence, if when they are without necessities, they fail to seek the remedy for their wants!” ~J. Calvin

Command #2: Seek

7:7b ζητεῖτε, καὶ εὑρήσετε

Continue to search/seek, and y’all will find.


o       Seeking God through the person of Christ receives the lion’s share of references:

§         John 1:38  Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, "What are you seek­ing*?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

§         Luke 6:19  And all the crowd sought* to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

§         Luke 19:3 And he [Zacchaeus] was seeking* to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.

§         John 6:24-35  So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking* Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking* me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…”

§         Matt 28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek* Jesus who was crucified.”

§         Acts 17:27 that they should seek* God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

Sometimes we seek the wrong things

§         Many times people “sought” Jesus, not to follow Him but rather to kill Him because they hated Him: It all started with Herod: Matthew 2:13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search* for the child, to destroy him."

§         Matthew 26:16 And from that moment he [Judas] sought* an opportunity to betray him.

§         Mark 8:11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking* from him a sign from heaven to test him.

§         Luke 12:29  And do not seek* what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.

§         Luke17:33  "Whoever seeks* to keep his life will lose it...”

§         Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking* the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

§         1 Cor. 13:5  love…does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked..

Now that Jesus is no longer physically present on earth to be sought after, there are other examples of what we should seek:

§         John 7:18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks* his own glory; but the one who seeks* the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

§         Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

§         Rom. 2:7  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

§         Rom. 10:3  For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

§         Gal. 2:17  …seeking to be justified in Christ

§         Php. 2:21  For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

§         1Pet. 3:11 “he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.”

§         This fits with what Jesus said earlier in Matthew 6:33 But seek* first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The other major class of examples in the Bible is a seeking for the good of others, especially their salvation:

§         Mat. 18:12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine  on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?

§         Luke 15:8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

§         1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek* his own good, but the good of his neighbor33  just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

§         1Cor. 14:12  So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

§         Acts 9:11  And the Lord said to him [Ananias of Antioch], "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and seek at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,

§         Acts 16:10  When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

§         2 Cor. 12:14  …I do not seek what is yours, but you...

§         This fits with God’s own actions: Luke 19:10  "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who were lost."

§         John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

·         Seeking is different from asking, because asking is just about what you say, but seeking includes your motives and the attitude of your heart. You might can fake piety in your asking, but there’s no way to fake seeking. Seeking is deeper than asking, and whatever you are seeking, you will inevitably also ask for.

·         So we must seek for Christ and seek to fulfill His interests, the things above, the kingdom of God and His righteousness and peace, the glory of God, and the salvation of lost people. This needs be our heart attitude, what we set our heart’s desire upon.

·         Again, the seeking is not a perfunctory one-time effort, but a continuous one which characterizes your life. The one who seeks finds, just like that farmer finds his lost sheep and the woman finds her lost coin and they are filled with happiness at saving what was lost.

·         “We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt God… He Himself is found of those that seek Him, and if we find Him, we have enough.” ~Matthew Henry

·         “We ask for what we wish; we seek for what we miss; we knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out.” ~Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

Command #3: Knock

7:7c κρούετε, καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν·

     Continue to knock, and it will be opened up to you.

·         Word study on kroupw.

§         Rev. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock*: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

§         See also Luke 12:36 and Song of Solomon 5:2, where Jesus is pictured as a divine husband knocking on the bedroom door of his bride.

·         So, the goal of knocking is to re-open fellowship and renew communication after it has been shut down by our sin, but before it is too late.

·         One way to open that door of fellowship with God is to confess our sin and ask Him to forgive us on the basis of the payment Jesus made for our sin on the cross.

·         Again, the knocking is not a perfunctory one-time effort, but a continuous one which characterizes your life. Knocking implies persistence in making a request and forcing ourselves upon God’s mercy:

·         Does knocking on heaven’s door characterize your life?


So we have these three commands: ask, seek, and knock. Jesus could have left it there. The King of the Universe can give us any command He wants, and we would be obligated to obey Him, whether we understood why He gave the command or not. But in His kind condescension to us, He gives us two good reasons to convince us all the more to ask, seek, and knock:

Reason #1: Because people are getting what they ask God for

7:8 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ αἰτῶν λαμβάνει καὶ ὁ ζητῶν εὑρίσκει καὶ τῷ κρούοντι ἀνοιγήσεται.

For every one who is asking is receiving, and the one who is searching is finding, and to the one who is knocking it is being opened up!

·         The result: it will be given (v.7)/everyone is receiving(v.8)

·         “every one” who asks – God is no respecter of persons. Take heart, anyone will be answered!

·         Not just anyone will receive from God and find and have the door opened, but:

·         Results both present (v.8) and future (v.7).

o       In v.7, Jesus says that such pursuers of God’s goodness will be given to, will find, and will get the door open in the future, and that is certainly true.

§         Anyone who has not yet sought God will find His blessing if and when they ever begin to seek Him in the future,

§         and everyone who is currently seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness will certainly find in the future in heaven all that they are looking for!

o       But here in v.8 it says that such pursuers of God’s goodness are already receiving, already finding, and already finding an open door.

§         The joys of eternal life and of God’s blessing – even His temporal blessings of food and children and status and wealth, are already being enjoyed by those who love Him and are called according to His purposes!

§         Christianity is not just about pie in the sky; it is about here and now as well as the eternal future, and our relationship with God is to be found in our asking, seeking and knocking both now and in the future.

Reason #2: Because Fathers give good gifts

7:9 Now say there’s a man from among y’all whose son is going to ask for bread; what will he hand to him – it won’t be a stone, will it? 7:10 Or say he’s going to ask for a fish; [what] will he hand to him – it won’t be a snake will it?

τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, ὃν [ἐὰν-א,B] αἰτήσει[1] ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον, μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ;
[2] καὶ [ἐὰν-א,B,C] ἰχθὺν αἰτήσει3, μὴ ὄφιν ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ;

·         Jesus was preaching on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, so fish would have been a staple for the residents.

·         Luke’s parallel account pulls in a third absurdity of a father giving his child a scorpion when he asks for an egg.

·         What Dad would throw a dangerous, poisonous serpent on the kitchen table like that?

·         The intentionally incongruous grammar of an indicative verb in this question juxtaposed with a Greek negative (μὴ) which is not supposed to be used with indicative verbs, is a signal used in Greek grammar indicating that the answer is, “NO, of course not!” That doesn’t fit reality.

·         Actually, I have heard of Dads in Papua New Guinea who encountered this verse with a Bible translator and said, “Why not? Snake is good meat!” The point is a fish is what the hungry child asked for and no good father would frustrate such a good and healthy request.

·         If you ever feel like God would be that injurious or unkind to His children, you need to get that out of your head. He is not that way. Believe what Jesus says here:


7:11 Therefore, if y’all, while being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to the ones who ask Him?

εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς, πονηροὶ ὄντες, οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς δώσει ἀγαθὰ τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν;

·         The phrase “if you, being evil, know” in v.11 is a 1st class conditional.

Jesus and Matthew use Greek grammar to do something we can’t do in English, and that is to indicate that the condition in this “if” statement is actually true. There are two words for “if” in Greek: one (ean) is used when the speaker doesn’t know what the situation will be, but the one here (ei) is used when the speaker does know the situation. Then, if a Greek speaker knows whether or not the condition is true, he can indicate that his “if” is actually the way things are by combining the Greek “I know it” kind of “if” with a Present tense verb, and he can indicate that it is an impossible condition by combining that “if” with a past tense verb. Here in v.11 we have the “I know it” kind of “if” with two present tense verbs, indicating that this “if” is really the way things are, in other words, we really are evil, and dads generally know how to give good gifts to their kids.

1.      The first of these truths is a bit disturbing. Am I evil?
Like it or not, the answer is, “Yes! Yes you are evil.” The Bible tells us that there is not even one of us who is righteous (Romans 3:10-12). All of us have disregarded and disobeyed God in some ways, and that makes us evil. That is why we need a savior to wash us clean from what we have done and make us right again. Human beings are not ultimate; we were created by God who is outside of and beyond us, and we have needs only He can take care of, so we must come before Him in prayer rather than anxiously trying to handle things on our own!

2.      The second of these truths, however is the force of Jesus’ second reason why we should pray to God. It’s an a fortiori argument, from what we know about a lesser thing to what we should reasonably conclude about a greater thing.

o       “Remember the commercial for Life Cereal... where the brothers experiment on picky little Mikey? If Mikey liked it, the boys figured, anyone would. That's an argument a fortiori: If something less likely is true, then something more likely will probably be true as well.”[3]

o       Here, Jesus’ argument is, “If fathers know how to give good gifts to their children (and we know that they generally do, even though there are exceptions), then God, our heavenly Father must know even better how to give good gifts.”

o       Isaiah 49:14-16 God said to His people who were afraid He had forgotten them, “Can a woman forget her nursing baby - from having compassion on a son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I, I will not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on my palms, your walls are always before me.”

o       “If all the compassions of all the tender fathers in the world were crowded into the bowels of one, yet compared with the tender mercies of our God, they would be but as a candle to the sun, or a drop to the ocean. God is more rich, and more ready to give to his children than the fathers of our flesh can be.” ~Matthew Henry

·         So, what kind of good gifts does God give?

o       The parallel passage in Luke 11 says, “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

o       The only other place in the NT where it mentions God giving gifts like this is Ephesians 4:6-8 [There is] one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (NASB) which Paul seems to apply to spiritual gifts such as apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, teaching, and service.

o       Matthew expands that to “good things,” and uses the word “gifts” in parallel with it. Don’t forget what a gift is: it is something freely given – “not lent or sold” (M.Henry). We do not deserve God’s goodness, and our asking for it does not make us any more worthy. “Gifts” are not earned, we just ask, and it is God’s character to give.

o       Our faith to make the request is itself a gift, so that it is all of God: “He is indeed His own incentive, to give us the gift of faith, which in rank and time antecedes all prayer.” ~J. Calvin


1. Recognize your spiritual need and ask God for salvation:

·         “Ask…thou art destitute of all spiritual good, and it is God alone who can give it to thee; and thou hast no claim but what his mercy has given thee on itself. Seek: Thou hast lost thy God, thy paradise, thy soul. - Look about thee - leave no stone unturned. There is no peace, no final salvation for thee till thou get thy soul restored to the favor and image of God. Knock: Be in earnest - be importunate: Eternity is at hand! and, if thou die in thy sins, where God is, thou shalt never come.” ~Adam Clarke

2. Go to God with every need you have:

·         “‘Ask…’ is to be understood of asking of God in prayer, for such things as are wanting; whether of a temporal nature, as food and raiment… or of a spiritual nature, as grace and wisdom to behave in a proper manner both towards God and men… ‘how much more shall your Father give…’ not only temporal good things as meat, drink, and clothing, but all spiritual good things, every supply of grace; all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Luke 11:13, the Holy Spirit is mentioned, and so seems to design His gifts and graces, everything that is necessary for the spiritual and eternal good of His people: but for these things He must be inquired of and sought after, and it is the least saints can do to ask for them… for it is but ask and have!” ~John Gill

3. Anticipate answers.

·         “There is nothing better to stir us to make our prayers than a firm assurance that we shall succeed in them, for those who have doubts are bound to pray defunctorily… Also, when­ever we come to prayer, or whenever we feel that there is not that life enthusiasm in our prayer that should be, we should bring this gentle invitation to our thoughts… (Ephesians 3:12 – we have boldness and confidence of access through faith in Him)” ~J. Calvin

·         “The truth and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus are pledged for its success. [Jesus said ask and you shall receive, and He is not a liar.] Bring Christ’s word and Christ’s sacrifice with thee, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied thee.” ~Adam Clarke

4. Don’t assume that a “No” answer is no answer. “If He does not fulfill our stupid ideas, we grumble at Him. So Christ subjects our prayers to the will of God, restraining Him from giving us more than He knows is for our good. We should not think that He has no concern for us when He does not answer our requests; He has the power to discern what is to our advantage.” ~J. Calvin


I recently read a story of a man who tried to weigh a prayer[4]. He owned a little grocery store in London. It was the week before Christmas, shortly after World War I. A tired-looking woman came into the store and asked for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for the children. The grocer asked her how much she could spend. "My husband did not come back; he was killed in the War. And I have nothing to offer but a little prayer," she answered. The storekeeper was not very sentimental nor religious, so he said, half mockingly, "Write it on paper, and I will weigh it." To his surprise, the woman took a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to the man, saying, "I wrote it during the night while watching over my sick baby." The grocer took the piece of paper before he could recover from his surprise and, because other customers were watching and had heard his remarks, he placed the unread prayer on the weight side of the old-fashioned scales. Then he began to pile food on the other side; but to his amazement, the scale would not go down. He became angry and flustered and finally said, "Well, that's all the scale will hold. Here's a bag; you will have to put it in yourself, I am busy." With trembling hands the woman filled the bag, and through moist eyes expressed her gratitude and departed. After that the store was empty of customers, the grocer examined the scales. Yes, they were broken and they had become broken just in time for God to answer the prayer of the woman. He then looked at the slip of paper upon which the woman's prayer had been written, "Please, Lord, give us this day our daily bread." Ask and it will be given to you

[1] Several manuscripts mark this verb “to ask” as Aorist Subjunctive i.e. “he might ask,” which also fits the context.

[2] Although not found in the Byzantine majority or Textus Receptus editions of the Greek New Testament, this second “or” is found throughout both ancient and medieval manuscripts, including א, B, C, f1 and f13.

[3] Thanks to Jay Heinrich for the idea for an illustration from his blog entry  "If Bill Had Great Interns, Then Hillary . . ."

[4] From 2000+ Sermon Illustrations, published by e-Sword