The intent of prayer is not to inform God of something because if the intent of prayer were to inform God of something, it would suggest that God isn’t all knowing. Moreover, the Bible is clear that God knows what you need before you even ask.1 Yet, if God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?
We pray for many reasons including the fact that God’s Word commands us to pray. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”2 So although God knows what we need before we ask, God still tells us to pray, and in obedience we do so. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”3
Your Part in Prayer, a Must
Notice in the text that all three verbs, “ask, seek, and knock” are imperative commands. These necessary directives clearly imply that Christ expects every believer to be active in prayer. So, while our Lord knows what we need, we still must ask.
When you study the original Greek in the New Testament, there are two basic kinds of imperatives. There’s an aorist imperative, and a present imperative. The aorist imperative is a command to do a particular thing at one specific time. In contrast, the present imperative is a command not only to do something, but to keep on doing it indefinitely. Hence, the present tense implies continuous, persistent action. What Jesus is saying then in this text is not only that we must ask, but we also must ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking; and knock and keep on knocking.
Put Your Prayers into Action
Additionally, these present tense imperative verbs, “ask, seek, and knock,” have a natural progression of action from least aggressive to most aggressive. In other words, there’s a reason Jesus put these words in this order. Jesus is saying not only must we engage in continuous, persistent action, but He’s also saying that the very words, “ask, seek, and knock,” suggest an ever increasing intensity in prayer.
Step 1 ask. When you ask someone something, you’re making a request of them. Asking in prayer is to make a request of God. We ask something of God when we have a need, and we ask something of God because He can provide for all of our needs. If we want to receive, we must ask.
Step 2 seek. Seeking is asking, plus action. We seek when we need something of value to us. There are times when we need to take an active role in the prayer process. If we want to find, we must seek. While you must ask, you also must act.
Step 3 knock. Knocking is asking plus action, plus attitude. This implies our petition in asking, our purpose in seeking, and our persistence in knocking. For example, we knock when we are shut out from what we need and desire entrance. Therefore, when attempting to enter a door, we continually knock until we gain entrance.
If God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?
Again, Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”4
This is continuous action, and it’s intensified, aggressive action until we get what we need!
So, don’t grow weary in asking God for what you need! Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”5
CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.
*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
1 Matthew 6:8
2 Philippians 4:6
3 Matthew 7:7
4 Matthew 7:7-8
5 Galatians 6:9
This article is part of our 2018 May / June Issue