"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.Matthew 7:8(NASB)
The Sermon on the Mount outlines the character and conduct that Christ expects from all subjects in His kingdom. It covers two long chapters and needs to be understood as an integrated whole, rather than a series of disconnected teachings - and this detailed dialogue should NOT be taken out of context.
Christ's Sermon is not a presentation of the gospel, nor does it explain the plan of salvation to unbelievers. It is a series of principles and practices given to His disciples which are designed to govern the behaviour of every subject in His kingdom. The conduct He calls for can only be achievable by drawing on the supernatural power of the indwelling Spirit of God in a life that is saved by grace through faith... a consecrated heart that is dedicated to serving our blessed Redeemer in spirit and in truth.
Two verses that are frequently taken out of context are in chapter 7, where we read "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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
It is often taught by compromised Christians, false teachers, and prosperity preachers, that if we shout loud enough, pray long enough, and demand forcefully enough, God has to give us whatever we demand or He is being dishonest! This is an unscriptural practice called 'positive confession'.
The simple beauty of the truth in these verses has been twisted by unscrupulous people to imply that God is at our beck and call and must give us everything we want. Prosperity teachings have sprung up and unscriptural denominations have been formed to push this 'new age' practice of 'positive declaration' in 'The Word of Faith movement'.
However, prosperity teachers detach their teachings from every other biblical instruction on the normal Christian life in general, and the conditions for answered prayer in particular. The Bible teaches that a man must pray in faith, and without any doubt, unforgiveness, or sin in his heart. We are reminded in Psalms, if God regards iniquity in a heart, He will neither heed nor hear a man's prayer.
Other conditions for answered prayer is that requests should not be selfishly motivated, but must be in line with the will of God. Hebrews outlines another principle of answered prayer, which is a far cry from the 'name-it-and-claim-it' teaching of the Word-of-Faith movement and prosperity teachings, "let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
When all the biblical criteria for prayer are met, God will most certainly answer prayer and in these precious verses, the Lord lays out the principles in His model prayer. We are to address our Father in heaven and honour His holy name. We are to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be carried out on earth as it is in heaven. We are to pray for our daily food and to ask forgiveness for any sin... and we are also to be prepared to forgive others, knowing how much our Saviour has forgiven us.
When we carry out His will and seek first His kingdom and righteousness, He will hear our prayer, because we will be praying into His will. When we honour our heavenly Father and proclaim His sovereign authority, His power, and His glory, we have an assurance that He is a God Who hears and answers prayer.
Although the entire Sermon on the Mount is distinctly Jewish and was originally given to a remnant of Jews who trusted Christ for their salvation, the principles apply to all people who already are... or will become part of His kingdom on earth. Christ's code of behaviour in His Sermon on the Mount was relevant to His earthly followers, both before and after the Cross. It has relevance to those of us who have already crowned Him as king of our heart in this age of grace. It contains standards to which Tribulation saints will need to adhere and it will also be relevant for those in the coming Millennial kingdom.
The impossibly high standards of the Sermon on the Mount and the call to prayer, are designed to teach us that the principles and practice in Christ's teaching can never be achieved in our own strength and power. They can only be realised supernaturally, as we allow the Holy Spirit of God to work His work in our lives.
The more earnestly we ask, seek, and knock on heaven's door, the more we will be given the supernatural strength to fulfil His Word and remain in the centre of His will.
Heavenly Father, thank You for laying out so clearly the principles and practices that should govern our lives as we die to self and live for God. Thank You that my salvation does not rely on what I have done but on what Christ has done on my account. Lord, at times I have tried to do things in my own strength, only to fail. Help me to live aright and pray according to Your Word and will. Give me an understanding heart and the desire to live and work and pray in a manner that honours Your holy name. I praise and thank You that You are my sole Provider. May I pray according to Your will, seek to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.