TIME in the Word – Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Daily Scripture ReadingMark 9

Verse of the Day – Matthew 7:7-8
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.

Devotional Thoughts
I am sure that we are all fairly familiar with the verses we will study this week. We have heard them quoted often, and as we get to the end of the paragraph we are looking at we will see that The Golden Rule is quoted over and over again by all sorts of people though it is rarely actually lived out. Within the context, these verses follow an admonition not to judge one another, though as we have studied, that too is often misquoted and misused. But in that context let us examine what Jesus says and see why He says it.

As a summary, Matthew 7:1-6 tells us not to judge one another in a negative way but instead to measure out goodness to one another. As we do these things we are told how to keep things in perspective – it is the parable of the speck and plank (part 1 and part 2). We have a choice to make, we can remove the plank from our own eye or we can bludgeon our brother with it as it sticks out of our eye during our self righteous attempts to pluck the speck from his eye. So as we learn not to judge and how to deal with sin in our lives and the lives of those around us, we see Jesus conclude these verse by telling us not to cast our pearls before swine. This one is easy to understand – who among us would take the most expensive and precious piece of jewelry they could find and throw it out into the pig pen? At the time Jesus was preaching, the pearl was one of the most rare jewels. And the pig was one of the most unclean animals to the Jew. Who would ever think to take their most valued possession and toss it to pigs? And these were wild boars who would just as soon rip a person to pieces with their tusks if they had the chance.

Jesus Himself told the disciples that as they were a witness, some would heed their message, others would not. Not every person we talk to will believe what we tell them about Christ. We will, at times, see our witness rejected. And Jesus said that if the gospel was shared and a person was of such evil character that they refused the gospel and fought against the witness – then we are to “shake the dust off our feet.” The kind of judging God expects of us is judging when to witness, when to rebuke, when to comfort, and when to quit.

And now to follow this up in His Sermon in the Mount, Jesus tells us:

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.

We need discernment. We need wisdom. In order to do what He has just told us to do in verses 1-6 we must have the right perspective. And yet so often we do not. Our eyes are blinded by the things of this world and our minds are confused by our emotions and our desires. So often we are quick to judge. So what can we do about that? What remedy do we find in the Scriptures?

Jesus says, “Ask.”

Is it that simple? Well, yes, it is. He tells us here to start with that if there is something we need then we should ask. This is so simple that I wonder how we mess these verses up so often. But there it is, simple enough. Ask.

Now a test to use when we are studying the Scripture is to seek to keep in mind the whole counsel of the Word of God. The Bible does not contradict itself. If we think we have found a contradiction in reality we have just found a passage we do not understand. So if we are to understand what Jesus means when He tells us to ask, and it will be given to us, then we need to see what else the Bible says about asking.

Can this be the magical formula that the health and wealth prosperity preachers proclaim to us? Is this the spell that opens the windows of heaven? Can we command God and demand of God and expect God to respond to our every whim, if we only ask with enough faith (and send $1000 to the toothy grin looking at us from inside the TV)? Do we have the authority to go to God and ask for anything we want and do we then have the right to expect that God will do whatever we ask, on the spot? Abracadabra, Allakazam, Hocus Pocus, and Shazam. And all that cloaked in the terms of faith and trust?

The Word of God tells us that if we ask in prayer believing then we will be given that for which we ask. But are there qualifications? John Gill summarized the way in which we should seek to pray by writing that we should ask, “according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, in faith, and with submission to the divine will.” Let us look at these Scriptural qualifiers.

Ask in According to the Will of God

Gill starts and finishes with the will of God. In telling us that we should ask with “submission to the Divine will” we see that he is telling us to pray as Christ did in the Garden the night He was betrayed. Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

We see that He prayed for what He wanted, but also prayed that God’s will would be done. His flesh, being fully human, was distraught at the thought of the cross. In this regard His flesh was weak, yet His spirit was willing. He prayed specifically that the Father’s will be done.

This is asking in submission. It is admitting that God knows best and that we are to desire His will above all else. So even as we take the things we want before Him we do so admitting that we truly want His will to be done.

But how do we know the will of God? How can we ask according to His will? We must be attentive to the Scriptures. We are told that it is God’s will for us to be sanctified (1 Thess 4:3), have wisdom (James 1:5), love Him with all we are (Mark 12:30), and love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). If we can just strive to do these then we will be walking in His will.

Luke 9:23 sums this up as we are instructed to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We do this as we ask according to the will of God.

Ask in the Name of Christ

This attribute of praying is most often applied by closing the prayer by saying, “In Jesus’ name.” However, that is not what this means, and in fact, to use a catch phrase without knowing what it means actually demeans the name of Christ. This is not praying and adding to the end “Jesus name.”

John MacArthur puts it this way, “Jesus’ name signifies all that He is and all that He would want. Praying in His name means praying in accordance with His character and His will.” So it is praying not just with the words “in Jesus name”, but with the while mindset that we are able to come and pray only through the atoning death and resurrected life of our Lord. It is coming to the Father through Christ, by virtue of His name, of which we are heirs!

Ask under the Direction of the Holy Spirit

Are we influenced and led by the Holy Spirit? We are if He indwells us, that is, if we are saved. The Holy Spirit points us to Christ. He convicts us of sin. He illumines the Word of God to our minds and hearts. He teaches us truth. He seals us for the day of redemption, guaranteeing our salvation.

Too often we pray with a view toward the will of God and according to the nature and attributes of Christ, but we neglect the Holy Spirit. We do not rely on Him as we should. We pray and live under our own power so to speak, all the while He is there and He is able to teach us to pray as we ought.

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us power and even the desire to pray as we should. He leads us as we seek to understand the Word of God and the will of God. Another way to say it is that we should pray as we are instructed in the Scriptures, for the Holy Spirit inspired the written Word of God. So to pray under His guidance is to pray in ways that we are taught to pray in the Bible.

Ask in Faith

Finally, we see that for our prayers to be answered we must pray in faith. We must believe that God hears and is able to answer. We must trust Him for the answer. And we must not doubt.

To doubt really is to have a lack of faith, so doubt is the enemy of prayer. James tells us that when we ask, we should ask without doubting, for “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

God expects us to believe Him when we ask. Why would we ask if we did not believe He could and would answer in the first place? Then again, we are rebuked in James 4 for the times that we ask amiss, that is, we ask for things only to “spend” on our own pleasures, with no regard for the will of God.

We see then that we are expected to ask God for the things that we need. By doing so we are able to grow in our relationship with Him through the conversation of prayer. We are also able to see Him provide. Asking shows dependence and humility, as well as faith and hope. And as He hears and answers, giving us that for which we have asked, we learn to trust Him even more.

Jesus begins the lesson on prayer here with this word. Ask. It denotes dependence, expectation, need, and faith. It tells us about ourselves and our God. When we have a need, we need to ask. When we ask, we will receive.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

How the Spirit enables Us to Pray by Thomas Boston
What Sinners Should Plead with God by Ralph Erskine

Bible Reading For Further Study
Psalm 2:8; 21:4; 105:4
Luke 11:1-13

Recommended Songs for Worship
O the Depth of Love Divine
The Lord is My Shepherd