Does God give us what we ask?

Eighth in a series of short answers to questions about the New Testament.

Consider Matt. 7:7-8: Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Does everyone who asks God for something really get it? Experience would tell us otherwise, but consider the following:

  • It is characteristic Semitic style to make a point in exaggerated terms, as Jesus does here.
  • Jesus is urging His followers to engage in persistent prayer, placing their trust in Him — His wisdom, power and grace — not in things they think God should give them.
  • Jesus is not giving a magic formula for self-gratification, according to The Apologetics Study Bible. He is using absolute terms to emphasize His point. We are to pray while trusting in God’s goodness and willingness to answer. This is especially true when the object of prayer is spiritual.
  • When we ask God for what He already intends to give us — peace in the midst of circumstances, His unfailing presence, power over fear or temptation — we understand that prayer is not to move God but to makes us more like His Son.