Ask, and it shall be given you - There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God - asking, ‹seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke 13:25; Revelation 3:20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, diligence, and perseverance. The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give - that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us, and most for his own honor, 1 John 5:14. Of that God is to be the judge. And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man “can” ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that he is willing to grant them.
Christ encourages us to do this by the conduct of parents. No parent turns away his child with that which would be injurious. He would not give him a stone instead of bread, or a serpent instead of a fish. God is better and kinder than the most tender earthly parents; and with what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need! Parents, he says, are evil; that is, are imperfect, often partial, and not unfrequently passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us.
Every one that asketh receiveth - That is, every one that asks aright; that prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better. A parent will not always confer the “very thing” which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good. Paul asked that the thorn from his flesh might be removed. God did not “literally” grant the request, but told him that his “grace” should be “sufficient” for him. See the notes at 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
A fish - A fish has some resemblance to a serpent; yet no parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious.
Ask - seek - knock - These three words include the ideas of want, loss, and earnestness.
Ask: turn, beggar at, the door of mercy; thou art destitute of all spiritual good, and it is God alone who can give it to thee; and thou hast no claim but what his mercy has given thee on itself.
Seek: Thou hast lost thy God, thy paradise, thy soul. - Look about thee - leave no stone unturned there is no peace, no final salvation for thee till thou get thy soul restored to the favor and image of God.
Knock: Be in earnest - be importunate: Eternity is at hand! and, if thou die in thy sins, where God is thou shalt never come.
Ask with confidence and humility.
Seek with care and application.
Knock with earnestness and perseverance.
There are certain conditions upon which we may expect that God will hear and answer our prayers. One of the first of these is that we feel our need of help from Him. He has promised, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” Isaiah 44:3. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God, may be sure that they will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit's influence, or God's blessing cannot be received. SC 95.1
Our great need is itself an argument and pleads most eloquently in our behalf. But the Lord is to be sought unto to do these things for us. He says, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” And “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Matthew 7:7; Romans 8:32. SC 95.2
If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance. SC 95.3Read in context »
Christ clothed His divinity with humanity and lived a life of prayer and self-denial, and of daily battle with temptation, that He might help those who today are assailed by temptation. He is our efficiency and power. He desires that, through the appropriation of His grace, humanity shall become partakers of the divine nature and thus escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. The word of God in the Old and New Testaments, if faithfully studied and received into the life, will give spiritual wisdom and life. This word is to be sacredly cherished. Faith in the word of God and in the power of Christ to transform the life will enable the believer to work His works and to live a life of rejoicing in the Lord. 9T 279.1
Again and again I have been instructed to say to our people: Let your faith and trust be in God. Do not depend on any erring man to define your duty. It is your privilege to say: “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel. For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from him; but when he cried unto Him, He heard. My praise shall be of Thee: ... I will pay my vows before them that fear Him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: your heart shall live forever.” Psalm 22:22-26. 9T 279.2
These scriptures are right to the point. Every church member should understand that God is the one to whom to look for an understanding of individual duty. It is right that brethren counsel together; but when men arrange just what their brethren shall do, let them answer that they have chosen the Lord as their counselor. Those who will humbly seek Him will find His grace sufficient. But when one man allows another to step in between him and the duty that God has pointed out to him, giving to man his confidence and accepting him as guide, then he steps from the true platform to a false and dangerous one. Such a man, instead of growing and developing, will lose his spirituality. 9T 280.1Read in context »
There is but one course for those to pursue who honestly desire to be freed from doubts. Instead of questioning and caviling concerning that which they do not understand, let them give heed to the light which already shines upon them, and they will receive greater light. Let them do every duty which has been made plain to their understanding, and they will be enabled to understand and perform those of which they are now in doubt. GC 528.1
Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those who are willing to be deceived, who desire to shun the self-denial and sacrifice demanded by the truth; but it is impossible for him to hold under his power one soul who honestly desires, at whatever cost, to know the truth. Christ is the truth and the “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. The Spirit of truth has been sent to guide men into all truth. And upon the authority of the Son of God it is declared: “Seek, and ye shall find.” “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Matthew 7:7; John 7:17. GC 528.2
The followers of Christ know little of the plots which Satan and his hosts are forming against them. But He who sitteth in the heavens will overrule all these devices for the accomplishment of His deep designs. The Lord permits His people to be subjected to the fiery ordeal of temptation, not because He takes pleasure in their distress and affliction, but because this process is essential to their final victory. He could not, consistently with His own glory, shield them from temptation; for the very object of the trial is to prepare them to resist all the allurements of evil. GC 528.3Read in context »
There are those who are not learned and who have not a large endowment of gifts, but they need not become discouraged because of this. Let them use what they have, faithfully guarding every weak point in their characters, seeking by divine grace to make it strong. There is no man living that has any power or ability which he has not received from God, and the source from whence it came is open to the weakest human being. If he will draw near to God, the unfailing source of strength, he will realize that God fulfills His promise. But in this work, we need not call men thousands of miles to give us aid; for Christ has promised, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.” TM 379.1
God has not given talents to men capriciously, but according to their God-given ability to use them. The greater the talents lent to man, the greater the returns required. God requires every human agent to consult the living oracle, and become thoroughly acquainted with His expressed will in all matters, that by diligently using the talents lent him, he may gain others. TM 379.2Read in context »