Verbs of Prayer{Matthew 7:7-8; ESV}
“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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Many of us would like to improve our times of prayer. We want our prayers to be authentic and powerful. We don’t want prayer to feel like work, to be ineffective, or come from the trappings of religion rather than from our heart. There is no doubt that we want our prayers to make a difference.

In these two verses, found at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us three verbs that should power our prayers. All three of these verbs are in the present tense, which implies continuing action. These are things we must continually make part of our prayer life.

  1. We are to ask. The image behind this verb is that of a beggar asking for money or a victim pleading for justice. To ask indicates our dependence on God. By asking we acknowledge that we have big needs that only God can meet.
  2. We are to seek. The image behind this verb is the person who lost something that is extremely precious to them and they are intent on finding it. To seek indicates that there is a passion behind our prayers. We are coming to God and we are desperate. We are desperate for a relationship with Him, we are desperate for healing, and we are desperate to live the life He created us to live. Our seeking identifies what we truly think is valuable.
  3. We are to knock. The image is that of a person knocking on the door to be let inside. It indicates that our desire is to be where God is, and we don’t want to be left on the outside. To knock means that we are not satisfied with life on the outside apart from God. We knock because we want to experience life with God, and we trust that God will not ignore us and keep us away from Him.

In verse 8 we have this great promise of receiving, finding, and being let inside. This isn’t a promise about getting our hearts desire, but it is a promise that we will be made citizens of God’s kingdom. The true power of prayer isn’t about miracles, but it is preparing us to be part of what God is doing in the world. Just 8 verses before Jesus said; “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33; ESV).

Prayer changes us more than it changes the circumstances in which we live. What many of us need is not a new set of circumstances, but a new perspective on life. We need to be able to see things from God’s perspective and to see Him at work in the world.

I believe this will add commitment to our prayer life because we will be able to see the difference prayer is making in our lives. When prayer is just about giving God a to-do list it can be very discouraging when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we think He should. When prayer is about connecting with God and seeking His Kingdom our eyes are opened to what God is doing, not only in the world around us, but in our own hearts. This reality motivates us to keep on praying.

Questions to consider:

  • In what ways are you frustrated with your prayer life?
  • Do you find the verbs ask, seek, and knock to be helpful?
  • Why is it important for God to give us a new perspective on life?
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