The places of prayer (Matthew 7:6-12)

It is clear from his illustrations that Jesus has three different locations of prayer in mind. The locations are (1) where a person asks, (2) where a person seeks, and (3) where a person knocks.

When it comes to asking, Jesus gives us a clue to the place that he has in mind when he refers to a child asking his father for food. Asking in prayer is like a child drawing near to his father in dependence on him to meet every day needs. Of course, Jesus is not limiting this kind of prayer to literal children. Instead he is reminding his disciples that often they will be able to pray in such a straightforward way.

What kind of person is illustrated by the individual seeking in prayer? A person who seeks is usually focussed on something that can be found. So we can work out that a seeking person has listened to what the Bible says on the topic of prayer. At the same time, a person usually seeks for items that he regards as valuable. 

Knocking points to respect. I would not walk into a person’s house without knocking first. Similarly, when we draw near the throne of God we will be marked by reverence for the One who rules. Yet since Jesus uses the perfect tense here, we can work out that knocking includes perseverance to get access. This does not mean that God is reluctant to hear our prayers. He has not told us why he delays to answer our petitions at times.

Obviously, Jesus mentions three ways to pray. Is he saying that one form is more advanced than the others, that we start by asking, then move to seeking, and eventually become marked by knocking? I don’t think he is advocating that process. Instead, I would suggest that he is highlighting that there will be different kinds of prayers depending on the circumstances. 

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