Pray in the right way

Published 5:00 pm Sunday, October 15, 2023

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” — Matthew 7:7-8 (NKJV)


This is a pretty straightforward passage that should give us assurance that God answers our prayers. It seems that we have but to say a little prayer and God immediately does our bidding. Because it sounds so simple, many pray according to that understanding, and are distraught when God does not leap into action to fulfill their petition.

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When we examine the passage more closely, especially the Greek verbs, ask, seek, and knock, we discover that they are continuous action verbs. The verse now becomes: ask, and keep on asking, seek, and keep on seeking, knock, and keep on knocking. How long should we “keep on”? Until we receive that for which we have prayed; if we have prayed “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man”(James 5:16b), we will receive our answer.

We must not expect that we will be heard if we are not sincere, or if we do not pray according to God’s will. In order to know God’s will for our lives we must spend time with Him through prayer, and in the reading/study of His word. Jesus tells us in John 14:16-17 that God will send the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, and teach us the truth. It is the Holy Spirit Who will help us to understand how, and for what we should pray. Apart from Jesus as Messiah, the Holy Spirit is our greatest blessing from God; without Him we are powerless to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26).

In John 14:13-14, 13:7, 16:23-24, and other verses, Jesus promises us that when we pray in His name we will receive what we ask for. Praying in Jesus’ name does not mean simply adding His name to the end of our prayers; it is much more involved than that. To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray from a deep personal relationship with Him, to abide in Him so that His will becomes our desire, His attitude and demeanor ours. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray with the authority of His promise as our permission, and our reasonable expectation of God’s answer.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.