Matthew 7:7–11: Ask, and It Will Be Given
The Sermon on the Mount spans an incredible range of themes. In Matthew 5, Jesus largely focused on the absolute standards of the Law—and, therefore, on our hopelessness to attain for ourselves a righteousness that will exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). In Matthew 6, Jesus criticized false piety and the deceptiveness of earthly treasures and anxieties. Now, in Matthew 7, after sharply warning us not to judge with a legal mindset, Jesus now offers words of incredible comfort and consolation in regard to how God hears our prayers. In Matthew 7:7–11, Jesus teaches us that when we pray, God only gives us good gifts.
1. How does this section about prayer fit in with what Jesus has said in the previous sections of the Sermon on the Mount? What is the difference between asking, seeking, and knocking in prayer? How would you characterize Jesus’ promises about what we can expect from prayer from vv. 7–8? What requests burden your heart right now? If you are honest, what keeps your from persevering in prayer for those burdens more than you do?
2. What does Jesus mean by the illustration of the earthly father in vv. 9–10? Is Jesus saying that our heavenly Father is just like our earthly Fathers, or something even stronger? Why does Jesus have to assure us that our heavenly Father will not give us evil gifts? If you are honest, what kinds of evil gifts do you feel God might give you—even if you wouldn’t say it, or don’t explicitly think it? Why do you feel that God may treat you that way?
3. If evil people know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us good gifts (v. 11)? What does this statement tell us about what God will give us when we unwittingly ask for evil gifts? How do we cultivate trust that when God does not give us what we ask for, he is nevertheless giving us something that will ultimately work together with all things for our good (Rom. 8:28)?
4. What picture of God governs your prayers? What experiences in your life have shaped this picture of God? What picture of God does Jesus give us here? What experiences in your life would support Jesus’ picture of God in prayer? What experiences in your life give you pause from trusting Jesus’ picture here? If you woke up tomorrow fully believing Jesus on this point, what change would you first notice in your prayer life?