In our first blog in this series, I introduced the acrostic ASK from Matthew 7:7-8. One way to look at what Jesus teaches here is to view each letter of the acrostic as describing the attitude Jesus expects us to have in order to receive his treasure. Some treasure is available for our asking, while other is only available as we learn how to seek. Finally, there is treasure that we will only experience as we learn to knock.
In this blog, we explore what Jesus means when he says, “ask and you shall receive” and “everyone who asks receives” (Matthew 7:7). Some treasure is only ours by asking. This is the gift realm of Christianity. In the chapter before this, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about the Father knowing what we need before we ask Him. Why, then, does he bid us to ask if he already knows ahead of time? Because He wants us to develop our faith so that we depend on him for everything. So he beckons us to ask Him for everything we need.
Being a father myself, I understand that. When my boys were young, they constantly asked me for a dollar or two to buy a drink or play a video game. I learned to keep several dollars in my pockets so whenever they asked, I was ready. As a father, it was my delight to meet their needs. That’s what fathers do. And I didn’t require anything of them before I met their need. The same is true of our Heavenly Father; he delights in meeting our needs. So he beckons us to ask for what we need.
James reminds us that this is a promise we often neglect when he writes, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Many believers complain about their lack of provision, but often they fail to utilize this amazing promise. I learned that firsthand when I needed a new laptop computer several years ago. At that time, I began to travel in ministry and thought I could find the time to write on my trips if I had a laptop. I felt called to a writing ministry, so it seemed to be a legitimate need. But there was one problem; the particular laptop I wanted was around $2,000, which I didn’t have. So I did what many would do in this situation—I announced to my wife that I was going to the bank to borrow the money. Without hesitation, she looked at me and said, “Honey, have you asked the Lord for the laptop?” I stood there in silence for a moment, knowing fully that I hadn’t. So we stood in the kitchen as I brought the need before my Heavenly Father (by the way, since I had God’s attention, I told him what size hard drive I wanted and how much RAM. After praying, we told no one what we asked.
Returning from a trip a few weeks later, my wife handed me the mail. It included a large envelope with no return address. As I opened it, out fell twenty-one hundred dollar bills! Someone had mailed me twenty-one hundred dollar bills with no return address. To this day, I do not know who sent it. I knelt on my knees and began to worship, realizing that I could have easily missed the miracle of God’s provision. That lesson was vital since I am called to live by faith.
James then adds this caveat: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Sometimes God graciously doesn’t answer our prayer. I will never forget the man who told me how thankful he was that God didn’t answer his prayer for a boat. He realized it would be a significant distraction if he received it. So we must learn to be content when God says ‘no’ to our requests for the simple reason that Father knows best.
Are you learning to ask for what you need, knowing that God is a good Father who loves to give to his children? Or are you a complainer who forgot to ask? I have learned to go to the Father first, knowing he invites me to come and ask. Since that incident with the laptop, I have seen God’s miracle of provision throughout almost five decades of ministry. And I continue to ask him to supply all my needs. What a wonderful Heavenly Father we have.