XIII. Prayer.

MATT. vii. 8. “Ask and it shall be given
unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened
unto you. Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh
findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

THE three words—ask, seek, and knock, are all used to
describe the one act or habit of prayer.
I. We have in these words not a formal definition of
prayer, but an incidental definition of prayer, and a most
complete definition. To pray to God is to ask of God.
Many persons praying spend much time in telling God
what they are and what they are not. They also, very
properly, acknowledge God’s goodness. That is right, but
it is not prayer. Sometimes it is well to go to God and
say nothing to God about myself except “our Father,” and
simply ask.
II. We have a recognition of the hindrances that we
sometimes meet in prayer. God is sometimes nigh, then
ask; sometimes He seems far, then seek; sometimes He
seems enshrined and heaven seems as brass, then knock;
sometimes the blessings we want are visible in God’s hands,
then ask; sometimes they are hid in God’s treasures, then
seek; sometimes they are deposited as in holy places,
then knock.
III. There is here a positive injunction. Prayer is not
optional; it is a great privilege, it is a duty.
IV. Christ stimulates to obedience by words of encour-
agement. He calls attention to universal experience. The
man who calls may be like a publican, but every one. If
every one, why not you? Further, He points to the con-
duct of parents towards their children, and gives force to
His illustration by a gentle reference to our common
depravity. Though gentle it is most forcible. I know
nothing about our sinfulness in Scripture that so touches
my heart as this “being evil.” The very incidental nature
of the recognition of our sinfulness shows how constantly
it was before Christ, and how much He thought of it. The
wonder is that our wickedness has not become so trium-
phant as to prevent the Father giving bread or fish.
Samuel Martin