God is our Father, and we as believers must learn to approach Him as our Father. This approach is not limited to what we call Him; it necessarily includes our requests. In a very real way, what one feels free to request indicates how much at home that person is. Are you at home in your Father’s house? Do you live there?
“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! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:7-12).
While considering the promise, we must first exclude applications of this promise which ignore the context of this passage, as well as the teaching of Scripture as a whole. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures . . .” (James 4:3). Jesus is not giving a universal blank check, to be cashed by any scoundrel who happens upon this text.
1. The promise is prefaced with a series of commands. Jesus, using the imperative, commands us to ask, to seek, and to knock.
2. The emphasis is on persistence. The one who obeys these commands — the one asking, the one seeking, the one knocking — will receive the answer, find what he sought, go through the opened door. But this is not the result of “prayer at a whim.” Obedience is asking, seeking, knocking.
3. Jesus assumes we are asking and seeking “good things.” In a parallel passage, Jesus refers to asking for the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:13). Those who seek salvation and the things of God are never turned away.
Here is the comparison. On the human level, it is ridiculous to think that human parents would respond to requests from their children in the bizarre fashion Christ speaks of here. Evil and sinful men can and do give good things to their children. Will such sinners outdo the Father? Of course not. The Father in heaven is far more disposed to answer requests for good things than any human parent is. Christ emphatically says how much more . . . Note that this appeal is not based on a humanistic assumption about the innate goodness of man, and the universal Fatherhood of God.
Jesus exhorts us to behave in a certain way because of this truth. Not only are we commanded to seek God’s blessings from Him, we are then commanded to do to others what we would like to receive from them. This is based on two criteria.
1. The first concerns answered prayer. If we are churlish with others, we cannot approach God with any understanding of divine goodness and readiness to respond. In prayer we will be like a dog staring at the Mona Lisa, trying to understand it — out of our depth. If we are giving evil things to one another, we cannot understand God’s willingness to be good to His people.
2. The second concerns the Christian’s understanding of, and submission to, the Law and the Prophets. Jesus here tells us that the “Golden Rule” is the Law and the Prophets. Remember that earlier in the sermon Christ had expressly disavowed any intention of setting aside the law of God.