Jesus has already spoken of what it means to ask in His sermon. Just before He taught His followers how to pray, He said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” So when He now says, “Ask and it will be given to you,” He is firstly and foremost speaking about asking God, not asking others.
One might not think we need encouragement to ask God. We are all so limited, so broken and so faulty that our shortcomings would seem as obvious as daylight and as often as the day is long. Yet we do need that encouragement. For we are very prone to believe that we can be entirely self-sufficient – or at least enough that we don’t need to ask just now. All the same, God can give all things, and there are things that only God can give. So to ask Him is never inappropriate. He is the one who made us, who designated our abilities and who created everything – to ask Him even before we seek for what we need is fitting to who we are, in light of who He is.
Especially so when one considers His character: He is generous. Always has been. Always will be. He gives to those who ask. He gives us His forgiveness. He gives us His grace. He gives us His Spirit. He gives us peace, life and joy. He gives us all things. For every time we ask, He has opportunity to both exercise His own character, and opportunity to glorify Himself in our asking and our thanks at His answer. To ask is to recognize Him as our God, and recognize ourselves as His people in need of Him.
So Jesus encourages us, “Ask and it will be given to you….”
Like the phrase, “Do not judge”, “Ask and it will be given” is something we often take out of context. People have used the phrase to build a philosophy that can be summarized as “name it, claim it”. Such a philosophy reduces God Most High to a personal Santa Claus. Preachers who ought to know better have used it to expect ever larger homes and even more expensive personal jets. But the context of the behavior Jesus is encouraging in Matthew 7:7 is not one of uncorking the genie in a bottle. Nor is it one of making ourselves even more comfortable. Instead, it is a statement made in context of living a radically God-centred life. The whole Sermon on the Mount is about living the Christ-life – a life acutely aware of God our Father, and aware that God our Father is acutely aware of us. One must not loose that context when we hear Christ’s words, or when we quote His exhortations.
Jesus also said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” Our asking must be with the intention of remaining in Christ – in His service and in His Name and for the Father’s glory. Our asking cannot be the kind of me-centred selfishness that unbelievers pursue every day of their lives. Such shortsighted idolatry is not appropriate for any made in God’s image, let alone for His people. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to ask God for what we need to remain in Christ – in His service and in His Name and for the Father’s glory. The child of God who seeks to honor God ought to lack for nothing in their quest for Him and His Kingdom.
Let us then always be about asking, and let us always be asking for Him, His purposes, His mission and His glory, remembering that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Amen.
Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.Matthew Henry
What do you need right now to grow God’s Kingdom? Are you asking God for it today?