Session #055 A.S.K. For What?
Scripture Matthew 7:7-11
Summary We know to pray and to ask. But do we know what we are to ask for? Contrary to popular belief, Matt 7:7-11 is not permission for believers to ask for anything and everything. Guided by proper context, Henson directs us back to all Jesus had been teaching throughout the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, it is very much still about the King and His kingdom. Learn about the five key items that we should be A.S.K.ing for, persistently.
“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! Matthew 7:7–11
This passage is about prayer, petitioning, and asking. More specifically, the persistence of prayer.
We all know to ask and to pray. But when we do not receive answers fast enough, do we find ourselves asking “Pray for what?”. Or if God already knows, then “A.S.K. for what?” Even so, although we know to ask, do we know what to ask for?
Matthew 7:7-11 can sound like permission to ask for anything and everything. And if you pray hard enough, often enough, you will surely get the “good things”. But is this what Jesus was teaching His disciples?
It will depend on what your eyes are fixed on if you have a good or a bad eye (Matthew 6:22-23). To guard against this, Context, as always, must be our guide.
The Context of Matthew 7:7-11
This is Not an isolated teaching or passage, but one that continues from Jesus’ teaching which started in Matthew 5:3. As such, this passage links back to the entire sermon and is a concluding segment as Jesus ends His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus has been teaching and giving the multitudes the Kingdom Manifesto as laid out in Matthew 5-6. Here in Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus teaches about persistence in prayer. But what was Jesus’ focus? And what are we to be persistent about?
Help: A prayer for divine help and enablement to be able to live out the kingdom manifesto.
We would like to be faithful to all that Jesus has taught. By our own strength, we will be unable to live as Jesus requires. We need the help of Jesus.
The question is: How desperate am I for things of the kingdom? To serve my Lord and my King? And what am really I A.S.K.ing for?
Good Things (Matthew 7:11)
It is easy to mistake this as a prayer for material blessings, with references to bread and fish. However, Jesus had already addressed wants such as earthly treasures and needs. Therefore, this section is not about that. Jesus’ rhetorical questions employ the basic items of bread and fish but it is not about that.
Making this about material needs, wants and blessings contradict all that Jesus had addressed and taught in Matthew 6:19-34
The Prosperity, Materialistic, and Consumeristic Gospel makes it all about material needs, wants, and blessings. James cautions us that we ask and do not receive because we ask amiss (James 4:1-4)
“How much more” can be misinterpreted as God lavishing us with more than we ask for. For example, if you ask for bread, you get a buffet spread. “How much more” is defined in material terms again. To get more and more and more. This cannot be true as it totally contradicts Jesus’ earlier teaching about laying up earthly treasures vs true treasures.
“How much more” does not mean greater in quantity or quality as compared to bread and fish, but to our Heavenly Father’s wisdom, faithfulness and goodness, as compared to evil and earthly fathers. What our Father desires to give is of much value, in terms of the greater kingdom and spiritual significance.
If Earthly Evil Fathers know how to give what they deem as good, our Heavenly Father knows much more how to give that which is of greater kingdom value and significance.
A.S.K. FOR WHAT?
Ask, Seek and Knock are Greek present tense which is a continuous asking, seeking and knocking meaning Persistence. There is also an increasing intensity which implies Desperation.
A.S.K. for the Kingdom
In Luke 12:31-32, we are told to seek the kingdom of God just as Matthew 6:33. Jesus says to Seek The Kingdom, and we conveniently take this passage to mean to Seek material stuff and the things we want. Jesus says to Seek Treasures In Heaven and we take this to mean Earthly Treasures.
We Seek. God Gives for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
How desperate are you for God’s kingdom to come, for His will to be done? How persistently are you asking for, seeking for, and pounding God’s door, for His kingdom?
A.S.K. for the Holy Spirit
Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Matthew 7:7-11 needs to be read in conjunction with Luke 11:9-13.
In Matthew, “good things” was used while Luke used “Holy Spirit”. Matthew was written to the Jews, who are the people of the kingdom. They should know the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke was written to the Gentiles, who needed to know about the Holy Spirit.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Jesus had taught about the Holy Spirit in John 4:10 when speaking to the woman at the well that If we knew the gift and asked God, He would give us the Living Water. In John 7:37, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as Living water as well.
Jesus asked the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:4-8. Obeying Jesus, the disciples prayed in the Upper Room, they Asked, Sought, Knocked for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-14).
The Holy Spirit was poured out on Jews in Acts 2. Then it was poured out on Gentiles ( Acts 10:45).
To be enabled by the Spirit is to live the laws of the kingdom according to the Spirit of the law (Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6 ). This is done for believers to be led and transformed by the Holy Spirit that we may become like our King, conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As we grow, we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22-23. We are to desire the best gifts (charismata) of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1–11) and continuously stir up the gift as Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:6.
A.S.K. For Others (not for myself)
Jesus tells a parable first in Luke 11:5-8 then follows by the A.S.K. teaching in Luke 11:9-13. It is consistent with Kingdom Focus, the Kingdom Prayer – Your kingdom come, Your will be done.
We are to be a blessing to others as taught in the parable in Luke 11:5-8. ASKing for divine enablement by the Holy Spirit to be a kingdom blessing.
As you read the parable, notice the move from Friends, to Fathers, to Faith in our Heavenly Father. “I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6) to “If a son asks for bread from any father among you…” (Luke 11:11) to “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13 ). God gives the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34), just A.S.K.
A.S.K. for Open Doors: Knocking For Doors To Be Opened – Assignments!
Jesus holds the key of David, to open doors (Revelation 3:7-8; Isaiah 22:22). Paul encourages to pray earnestly for doors to be opened (1 Corinthians 16:8, 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:2).
How desperately do you want to know your assignments? How persistently are you asking? How willing are you to align? How serious are you to give up and deal with anything that stands in the way of you knowing and fulfilling your kingdom assignments?
A.S.K. for Justice (Righteousness)
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches that we are to be persistent, keep asking God for justice, to avenge the elect. This requires faith to keep holding on and to keep believing especially when everything appears totally unfair at the moment. Seek the kingdom’s righteousness as Christians are being persecuted, and wronged by others.
How desperate are you for the righteousness of the kingdom? How persistently are we praying for Jesus to come to rule and reign with righteousness?
A.S.K. for the Kingdom of God for “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) The poor in spirit desperately know their need for God and so they are not afraid to ask.
A.S.K. for the Holy Spirit for we need the Living Water in us, to enable us to live out the Kingdom Manifesto.
A.S.K. for others, to pray without ceasing and pray prayers of thanksgiving in all situations ( 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
A.S.K. for open doors. As we pray, God will align our hearts and He will open the doors for our assignments.
A.S.K. for justice as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who long for God’s will and God’s ways (Matthew 6:33)
Ask, Seek, Knock. Get Desperate. Be Persistent.