By Robert E. Henson
7 Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Some biblical commentators explain that the references to asking, seeking, and knocking in these Bible verses are just different ways of expressing one and the self-same kind of prayer. I strongly disagree. In these two scriptures, there are, in fact, listed 3 dimensions of prayer, or 3 prayer strategies:
A close examination of prayers prayed in the Bible will make this truth obvious. Let us consider each description of prayer individually.
The connotation of this term from New Testament Greek indicates to request, plead, or beg. As such, it indicates something that we cannot do for ourselves. The expression conveys the idea of empty hands. In other words, we have a need, and we have no money to pay. The promised response to this type of prayer is that the petitioned need will be given. Let us take a closer look at this benevolent response.
This term literally means it will be placed into your hands, or into your life. Please carefully observe that we are not informed as to how it would be given, only that it shall be given. It may come directly to you from the Great Benefactor, Almighty God, or it may come through a human agent. A classic illustration of this type of prayer and its promised response is seen in Matthew. Let’s examine it.
2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
This was prayer in the mode of asking. It received a direct and immediate response.
The usage of this word suggests great desire and personal effort. The connotation here is of one questing to discover or perceive; e.g., to find the will of God in a given situation. The arena of experience here is one of mental apprehension, discovery or revelation.
The proffered response to this type of prayer is that the petitioner will find. It is worth it to view this result up close.
Notice again the specific words of Jesus, “Ye (you) shall find.” The very one seeking is the one who makes the discovery or receives the revelation. Understanding dawns upon his or her questing soul. It is most interesting that the answers to such seeking can come by two very different means. It can be…
A direct answer
The discovering of the answer by piecing together the fragments of the evidence
We will consider a scriptural example of each kind of finding. First, we will review a direct answer.
1 Samuel 30:1; 6-8
1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.
8 David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after to David. this troop? Shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
Here David received a direct answer to his seeking. Next, we will review a very different case.
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Note that Paul and Timothy wanted to preach the Gospel in Asia. Bluntly, the Holy Ghost forbade them. They then suggested they would go just across the line into Asia into a city called Bithynia. Once again, the Holy Ghost gave a firm “No!” Then Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia (Europe) calling for help. Paul and Timothy quickly endeavored to get to Macedonia to preach the Gospel.
How did they discover that this was the correct decision? The English says, “assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us…” Observe the phrase “assuredly gathering.” This means they took the fragments of evidence from the various experiences and pieced them together to arrive at a proper discovery. This is the second way that we get answers to our prayers.
This type of prayer suggests a combination of the other two types. It suggests dependence because we can’t open the door by ourselves. It also suggests effort (knocking) perhaps rigorous effort. Knocking at the door suggests already knowing God’s will. The door not yet opening is a possible suggestion that the answer that should be coming is “hung up,” delayed, or not yet birthed. The promised response to this prayer is for an opening.
The Lord Himself or through others will do, or open, what we cannot do, or open, by ourselves. Knocking is vigorous prayer that relentlessly pursues the promises and will of God until it opens, unfolds, or comes into being. Perhaps the most classic case of this prayer scenario is found in I Kings 18:41-46.
41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Elijah knew that it was God’s will for it to rain. He also knew it was God’s time for it to rain. Elijah even had a promise that it was going to rain, for there was the sound of abundance of rain. With all this evidence of an impending rainstorm, Elijah stood at the door and knocked until the door opened and the rain came.
The Key to Success in Prayer
The key to success for any prayer strategy is found in Matthew 7:8. Let’s look at it again. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
In English, there is an “eth” on the end of each of the principal words – asketh, seeketh, and knocketh. The “eth” means to continue to do whatever activity is suggested by the root word. The Lord never said ask, seek, or knock just once, and you will be answered. However, he declares without hesitation that for those who continue asking, for those who continue seeking, and for those who continue knocking there will be an answer to their prayer! World Changers experience breakthroughs through prayer.
This article was taken from the book “You can Impact your World: World Changers” By Robert E. Henson
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