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ASK! SEEK! KNOCK!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 6, 2008

“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” (Luke 11:9-10).


Dr. John Gill, great Baptist Bible commentator of the eighteenth century, gave this exposition of the text,

       For every one that asketh receiveth…when a man is right in the matter and manner of prayer…he has the petitions which he asks [he gets what he asks for] either immediately, or, at least, he may be assured he shall have [his prayers answered] in God’s due time [when God sees fit to answer]: and he that seeketh findeth: whosoever not only prays but [attends the stated meetings of the church] and is diligent…sooner or later finds…what his soul seeks for: and to him that knocketh it shall be opened; not only [he] who prays heartily, and seeks diligently, but who is importunate [does not give up, but continues praying] and will not [be satisfied with denial]; continues knocking; though there may be some time a seeming delay, yet the door will not always be shut to him; after much knocking it will be opened (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 602).

This passage from Dr. Gill on our text shows, as he said, “The several phrases [ask, seek, knock] denote prayer, the continuance of it, and importunity [persistence, continuing] in it” until the answer comes. Thus, the text gives three levels of prayer.

“Ask, and it shall be given you.”

“Seek, and ye shall find.”

“Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
 

I. First, ask and it shall be given you.

 

Ask! That is the first requirement. How often we find that our prayers for certain things are answered quite soon after we ask them, simply because we ask God for them. When Peter was locked up in prison for preaching the Gospel,

“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).

But the Bible tells us that “the same night” (Acts 12:6) when they were praying, God sent an angel, broke his chains and led Peter safely out of the prison. The church prayed and “the same night” an angel was sent to save him from imprisonment and execution.

Do I believe in angels? Certainly! The Bible speaks of angels from one end to the other. Only a sinful unbeliever rejects the reality of angels. I believe that God has sent angels to protect me on several occasions, always in answer to prayer. I will give you the account of one of those experiences.

Back in the nineteen-sixties I was working in a Chinese Baptist church. Each Saturday night, after I had prepared my Sunday School lesson and the sermon I would preach to the children the next morning, I would then drive down to the Chinese church and take Mr. Gene Wilkerson, the church secretary home in my car, since he didn’t drive. One night it was raining heavily as I took him home, up the old Pasadena Freeway, to his apartment. In the rush of things I forgot to check my gas gauge. After I let Mr. Wilkerson, whom most of you know, out at his apartment, I turned back onto the Pasadena Freeway to return to my room. Suddenly the car stopped. It was completely out of gas.

Now, you must realize that the Pasadena Freeway is the oldest freeway in America. It was the very first freeway ever built. It was originally constructed to carry old Model A Fords, not fast modern cars. It is a very dangerous freeway to be driving on in a rain storm late at night – particularly if you are out of gas!

I came around a blind curve and the engine stopped. There was no place to pull off. There my car stopped right in the lane of that old freeway. Suddenly I realized that the next car that came around that blind curve would smash into me. I jumped out of the car and quickly prayed for God to save me. Then I heard a horn honking. There was a chain link fence about ten feet high running along the freeway next to my car. On the other side of the fence was a small Volkswagen and a little man with a strange apparatus that looked like a fishing pole in his hand. He put a can of gas on the end of the pole and cranked it and the pole extended the gas can up over the fence. As the can came down on my side of the fence, I took it. He said, “Quick, put the gas in your car.” I did, and then put the can back on the end of the pole. He started cranking it back to himself. As I rushed to my car I yelled, “Thanks a lot!” He said, “Don’t mention it. I do this every night.” As I drove away I thought, “What did he mean – ‘I do this every night’?” Then two verses of Scripture flashed through my mind,

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11).

“Some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

Was that little man with the strange fishing pole device and the can of gas an angel? “Don’t mention it. I do this every night.” To this day I believe that little man was an angel, sent by God to save me on a rain-soaked night, on a blind curve, on the Pasadena Freeway. I can’t explain that strange event any other way. I may be wrong, but this much is certain – God answered the prayer I prayed when my car ran out of gas that night.

“Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:9).

That is the first level of prayer.

II. Second, seek and ye shall find.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find…”
      (Luke 11:9).

“He that seeketh findeth” (Luke 11:10).

Dr. Gill said, “Whosoever not only prays…but is diligent…sooner or later finds…what his soul seeks for.” Dr. Lenski translated the verse, “Keep seeking, and you shall find.” He said it is present imperative in the Greek, “Keep seeking.” “Yet the second [seek] seems to be more intense than the first [ask]” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961 reprint, pp. 626, 627).

“Keep seeking and ye shall find.”

I believe this refers to “praying through.” Jesus taught us to pray through in the Parable of the Unjust Judge, in Luke 18:1-8. In verse one we are told,

“He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

Dr. John R. Rice said,

Note that the sole end of the parable is praying through…Even a poor widow can plead with a judge that he may hear her cause and deliver her from her adversaries and give her justice. And shall not God’s own children cry unto Him day and night…Verse 8 [“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”] hints that when the Saviour comes He will find little faith on the earth. People do not believe in prayer. People do not pray through…But when God’s people really pray through, then they can have revival, can have protection, can have provision, can have anointing of the Holy Spirit, can have anything God has for His people. Pray through! (John R. Rice., D.D., Prayer – Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1981 reprint, p. 210).

I remember that several of us were praying specifically for revival at the Chinese church back in the 1960s. Nothing happened, but we kept on praying. Then at summer camp in 1969 the pastor, Dr. Lin, rebuked us one night for having a dead, dry program. I went to bed and slept, but a few others prayed through the night without my knowledge. The next morning the revival came that we had prayed for so long. It went on for over three years, with hundreds saved and added to the church. I know that we can pray through for conversions today. I saw revival conversions by the hundreds with my own eyes in those meetings back in the late 1960s and early 70s.  


Keep on praying

   Till you pray it through,

Keep on praying

   Till you pray it through.


God’s greatest promises

   Are always true,

Keep on praying

   Till you pray it through.

(Author unknown, p. 210, Prayer – Asking and Receiving,

   by Dr. John R. Rice).

III. Third, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).

Dr. Lenski said, “The three imperatives are [the same], yet the second seems to be more intense than the first, the third more intense than the other two” (R. C. H. Lenski, ibid.).

“To him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10).

Spurgeon said that these prayers are on an ascending scale,

It is said first that we ask: I suppose that refers to the prayer which is a mere statement of our wants…But as we learn the art of prayer we go on further to seek…and plead reasons for the granting of our desires…And if the blessing comes not, we then rise to the third degree, which is knocking…we are not content with asking and giving reasons, but we throw the whole earnestness of our being into our requests, and practice the text which says “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Prayer Certified of Success,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1971 reprint, volume XIX, pp. 30, 31).

I remember in the early 1970s how we prayed, not for the salvation of a single soul, but for a whole seminary I was attending to turn from the wicked unbelief of theological liberalism. These professors did not believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead. They did not believe that Jesus was literally coming again in the clouds. They taught that the Bible was full of errors. What they taught was horrible apostasy. 

I remember how we prayed. Every Thursday night there was a prayer meeting in my dorm room. One night there were about one hundred men jammed into that room, pouring out into the hall, some outside with the window opened. What did we pray for? We prayed for that seminary to be freed from unbelieving liberalism. We literally stormed the gates of Heaven and knocked on the door of Paradise! Week after week we prayed on Thursday nights. It seemed to be an impossible prayer, yet we took hold of the promises of God and prayed as we had never prayed before, week after week, month after month. Then we graduated. We moved away. We forgot all about it. But God did not forget! Today, to my knowledge, there is not one single theological liberal teaching at that seminary! I saw that happen with my own eyes! A few months ago I walked down the halls of that seminary, which was delivered from the wickedness of theological liberalism by prayer alone! My heart rang out, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6).

“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10).

Dr. Rice said, “Christianity is a miracle religion…You cannot have Christianity without miracles!” (Rice, ibid., p. 254). The virgin birth of Jesus is a miracle! Jesus taking our sins in His own body on the Cross is a miracle! Jesus rising physically from the dead is a miracle! And every time someone is converted it is a miracle!

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

We are praying for you to be convinced of sin. That will take a miracle. We are praying for you to receive Christ. That will take a miracle. We are praying for you to be converted. Someone has said, “Conversions are the standing miracles of a church.” We will pray, and seek, and knock – and we will not stop – until you are born again by the grace of God – and washed clean in the Blood of Jesus Christ!

Let us stand and sing hymn number seven on your song sheet.


I hear the Saviour say,

“Thy strength indeed is small;

Child of weakness, watch and pray,

Find in Me thine all in all.”


Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

   (“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1822-1889).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 11:5-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Praying For You” (by S. O’Malley Clough, 1837-1910).


THE OUTLINE OF

ASK! SEEK! KNOCK!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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” (Luke 11:9-10).

I.   First, ask and it shall be given you, Acts 12:5, 6; Psalm 91:11;
Hebrews 13:2; Luke 11:9a.

II.  Second, seek and ye shall find, Luke 11:9b, 10; 18:1.

III. Third, knock, and it shall be opened unto you, Luke 11:9c;
Revelation 19:6; Luke 11:10; Ephesians 2:1.