If you are like me, you have known Matthew 7:7-8 for a long time — and claimed it countless times! Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receives, and he that seeks will find, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” I’ve always understood that this means we are to be persistent and proactive in our prayers. However, the Lord has taught me some new and important lessons on this passage over the past few months that I want to pass on to you.
1. Ask both vertically and horizontally. I had always applied this passage only to vertical praying, which of course it is first and foremost. God is our source, and as we seek Him privately, He rewards us publically. We don’t need and shouldn’t try to manipulate our circumstances and surroundings. We simply need to let our requests be made known to God. However, as God gives us guidance and permission, we can also apply this passage horizontally to those around us.
For example, our publisher wants us to gather some key endorsements from well-known pastors and worship leaders for our worship study. The people we are hoping to have endorse it include some big names in worship. We have bathed these names in prayer vertically. But we also have a responsibility horizontally to approach them and ask them to consider helping us.
2. That leads us to this second profound truth: These three action verbs follow in a specific and necessary progression. We start with asking verbally. Numerous scriptures support the priority of approaching our awesome God and making our petitions known to him. However, it doesn’t stop there. Once we have asked verbally, we must seek visually and carefully. We must use the eyes and brains God gave us to look around and think ahead for possible doors the Lord may show us. These represent potential ways He may choose to answer our prayer. Regarding our ministry’s need for endorsements, “seeking” might include thinking of people we have known over the years who have connections with possible endorsers. Still, seeking is not enough. We must follow through and knock on the doors which God has led us to, those which we discovered by asking for them and then seeking them. Our job is to knock on the doors physically, deliberately and persistently.
If we have first taken the necessary time to properly ask God for the doors and seek out those doors, then and only then will we have the confidence we need to keep on knocking until the doors open wide in answer to our God-honoring requests!