Ask and I might answer, seek and maybe you’ll find, knock, and once in a blue moon you could receive... Is that what Jesus said? Nope! The Lord said, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). I call that a blank check! Fill in the amount. Ask, seek and knock, and Jesus will cash the check.
Yes, but Jesus also taught that faith is a prerequisite to successful praying. When a weary father brought his sick son to the disciples, they were unable to heal the boy. When Jesus arrived, He chided the disciples for their unbelief. Turning His attention to the father and son, he marvelously and miraculously restored the boy to perfect health. “Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ ‘Because of your little faith,’ he told them. ‘For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:19–20).
On another occasion, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12–14). Jesus wasn’t advocating that we close every prayer with the magic words, “In Jesus name I pray. Amen.” Rather, He taught us that prayer is based upon our relationship to God Almighty and His Son, Jesus. To pray in His name is to pray using His authority.
Jesus added another prerequisite to successful praying in the “Vine and Branches” parable. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener... Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you” (John 15:1–7).
We must pray faithfully. We must pray in the authority of Jesus’ name. We must abide in Christ. And, we must pray according to His will and purpose. In the Disciple’s prayer, the model prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven ... Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10)
I might selfishly pray that God would give me a new Cadillac convertible... cherry red with tan leather interior. Or I might pray that Almighty God would rain fire on that stupid guy who didn’t laugh at my joke, but Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.”
Let me leave you with two images. First, we are God’s beloved child. Crawl up in the Father’s lap, snuggle close, and share your deepest hurts and your greatest joys. It’s our Father’s great pleasure to hear our prayers. And another image. Enter the royal throne room of the omnipotent and sovereign King of the Universe. See Him, seated high, holy, attended by hovering angels. Small and insignificant in comparison, we must kneel in reverence. The only utterance that seems appropriate is, “Thy will be done!”
Both images are real. We are summoned to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16) and invited to “cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ ” as “God’s children ... heirs of God and coheirs with Christ” (Romans 8:15–17).
Jesus prayed. Jesus taught us to pray. Now Jesus is waiting for us to pray.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.