Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:7e “. . .knock,. . .”
We ask, totally dependent on someone else. We seek, as one in earnest. We knock, feeling we have drawn near, yet still sensing one last, formidable obstacle.
Knocking implies we have come close. Helplessness and yearning impel us to journey far on the sea of prayer in our quest for desired treasure. We eventually sense we are nearing Treasure Island. The holy chamber of riches is just ahead. Its vaults hold all the treasure we need. If we can enter there, we know we will be able to take all we need, but one obstacle blocks our way–a door, in fact a closed door.
Lord Jesus understood our nature and thought processes. He knew we would have trouble understanding and accepting the giving nature of His Father. Jesus knew we would imagine the things we need are shut up behind a closed door. The fact He told us to knock implies we are longing for things we feel shut out from.
This sense of being shut out is usually of our own making. The reason we believe the door is locked against us is, we are convinced it ought to be. We know we are sinners, we fully realize our lack of perfection. We know we are often guilty of “fox-hole” religion, of coming to God in earnest only in times of trouble. We are keenly aware of our failures, including weak faith. Thus, in our opinion, the door should not only be closed, but also ten-fold padlocked with flaming angels guarding it. The door is closed far more in our own imaginations than as a matter of fact, but even accepting this truth does not negate our perception of the door as barred shut.
What should we do when we hit this proverbial self-made wall in prayer? It happens to us all. We reach a point where nothing we say seems able to penetrate this self-perceived barrier. We relate to Jeremiah’s anguish, “When I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer” (LM 3:8 NAS). When we feel shut out from power, comfort, knowledge, hope, yea from God, what should we do? Two things.
First, remember it is a door, not a wall. If God wanted to keep us out, He would have given us the image of a continuous wall. The fact He speaks of doors means He wants them opened. The very purpose of a door is to provide a means of entrance. Heaven itself is pictured as a place with doors everywhere. It has twelve gates, three along each wall (RV 21:13). God wants people to enter His presence.
Second, when we hit our self-made wall-door, knock, expecting it to be opened. Jesus’ promise is very clear: knock, . . . .
Matt. 7:7f “. . .and it shall be opened unto you:”
God’s door “opens very freely; its hinges are not rusted, no bolts secure it” (Spurgeon). There are no padlocks and no flaming angels. Instead, there is God.
Note the passive tense. This reminds us Someone other than ourselves must open the door. In prayer we are beggars, seekers, suppliants. Only God can open the door to His storehouse, and He desires to. The Lord is thrilled to open His door to all who knock. Compassion and goodwill are ever on the other side of the door.
When our prayers reach the self-made wall-door, be not discouraged. Knock as a family member who has every right to enter. I have never knocked on my parents’ door, and then had to stand outside to talk with them. If I knock, and they are home, I enter in. Always expect the door, sooner or later, to be opened. “Never did the hand of faith knock in vain at God’s gate” (Trapp), as the next verse reminds us.
Matt. 7:8 “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Jesus took great pains to encourage us to pray. Do not resist His appeals. It is a sin not to pray. Samuel told Israel, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 SM 12:23). The worst mistake a believer makes in prayer is to quit praying. This one failure opens the floodgates to many failures.
Jesus knew, for us to succeed in prayer, He would have to help us overcome our own negative attitudes toward His Father. God is not the grudging unheeding Judge we often deem Him. He hears prayer (PS 65:2). God wants to be known as a concerned Father who loves to hear all the prayers of “every one” of His children.
God is eager to hear from each of us, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, educated or uneducated. There are no first class, as opposed to second class, children, no bluebirds lording over buzzards. No group can claim priority over another. We are all welcome, for “God is no respecter of persons” (AC 10:34). We each believed this truth in order to be saved in the first place. We need to continue believing it, and apply it to our prayer status now.
Brothers and sisters, pray. In a secluded, quiet spot, shut out the world, and pray. Spend much time praying. I joke about certain silly things I plan to do when I retire, but of one activity I am dead serious–I plan to spend more time in prayer.
God answers prayer. He may not answer immediately, or in exactly the way we ask or expect. The Lord often gives us what we need instead of what we want. Whatever God, in His sovereign will, chooses to do in response to our prayers, the time we spend in prayer is not wasted, never in vain or for naught.
If our faith is weak, pray and it will be strengthened. When we have sinned, pray and repentance and forgiveness shall come. Even if our prayer requests are wrong, keep praying. God can and will work through our prayerful spirits to help us keep changing our prayers till they eventually become right. The classic example of this is Paul’s struggle with his thorn in the flesh (see 2 Cor. 12:7-9). Paul, who often prayed successfully for others to be healed, and who was granted power to raise Eutychus from the dead (AC 20:9-10), was rebuffed in his efforts to have his own malady of the flesh healed. Three times Paul asked, three times God said no. Instead of healing Paul, God chose to give the Apostle a better gift, the grace to bear it and to see it as the source of his humility. God revealed to Paul the truth about his thorn. Without it he would have grown proud. Gentiles, try to imagine how different our world would be, had God healed Paul, and had Paul due to pride become “a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27), a “shipwreck” (1 TM 1:19), leaving us to flounder forever on the storm-tossed sea of lostness. Leave results to God, but pray.
Keep on asking; never stop begging. Keep on seeking; never let our prayers grow cold. Keep on knocking; never walk away. When we stand at the door of heaven’s treasure chamber, await admittance. Be persistent. Stand there knocking. As we plant ourselves in that spot, and refuse to budge, we prove to God we know where the treasure is, and we tell Him we will turn nowhere else for help.