Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11

Many years ago I visited a friend of mine in Washington, DC, where he was doing his pastoral internship. He ran an afterschool program for local kids. Poor kids. Mostly African American kids. When I was there visiting it just so happened that he was teaching this passage to the children.

He later told me that, as soon as he finished reading, one of the little boys piped up, “My Daddy would do something like that.” Just as serious as he could be. That little boy was caught between the promises of his Heavenly Father and the limitations of his earthly father. Maybe his story is more dramatic than some but all of us struggle with this. It is the problem inherent in thinking about God in gender limiting relational terms.

Thinking of God as “father” is intended to draw us closer, more intimately, to God. But that becomes less than helpful when we immediately associate the dark sides of human power imbalances and connect those to God. It can mess us up spiritually.

Jesus is encouraging us to pray. He is inviting us to bring our wants, desires, wishes, hopes, to God. He is inviting us to ask for help. For some, that comes naturally and easily. For others, never encouraged to ask for help as we grew up, it is hard. We would no sooner ask God for help than stop along the way to ask for directions at a gas station. We can DO IT BY OURSELVES screams our inner two year. (Or maybe we can’t and we’re just too ashamed that someone will find that out about us.)

Through the years I have noticed that people at church don’t hesitate to ask for prayers about health concerns. We see God as the source of our healing and it helps to know that we are being prayed for when we’re sick. But think about that for a minute. What about all the other aspects of our lives that matter? What about everything else?

I love my wife. I love knowing that we do our lives together. I know I can ask her for anything. I can tell her anything. She will listen and she will do whatever she can to help me. I trust her. But still I hold back. I don’t want to bother her. I don’t want to make her go out of her way. So I don’t ask for much. And even as I type these words, knowing she will likely read them as soon as they show up in her inbox, she is going to ask me why I still have a hard time asking her for help. I won’t have a good answer.

God is saying the very same thing to us now. I’m here for you, and I’m here with you. Ask me. Seek me. Knock, and I’ll answer. You might not get what you want but you will get what you need. Maybe not when you want but largely just in time. Why don’t you give me a try? Ask, seek, knock. Trust me. I’m here.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we trust that you know us. We trust that you hear us. Yet far too often we keep our worries and concerns and hopes to ourselves. We want to do things on our own. We forget to ask, or to seek, or to knock. Inspire us anew to cast all of our troubles on you. To seek your direction, your will, in all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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4 Responses to “Matthew 7:7-11”

  1. Marlys Says:

    Thank you, I so needed your honest input on this scripture. Some times we struggle with asking too much in prayer or too often? I am a prayer warrior. Childhood habits?? Who knows, I need to be in touch with Jesus always.
    Your devotions are so appreciated, Thank you!
    I thank God for you and your wisdom.

  2. Georgene Says:

    Please don’t consider this a criticism, but just as you give me things to think about it offer a thought to you. It really wasn’t necessary to the story to note that the children were mostly African American.

  3. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Today’s devotion is both encouraging and a reminder that in God there is more-much more…

  4. Carolee Groux Says:

    I love that these verses from Matthew give us the knowledge and confidence that God listens and will answer our prayers. Maybe in His own time and with His own answer, but answer He will. In the first verse in a nutshell: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

    Correspondingly God promises us that if we give to others, gifts will come back to us.

    Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

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