Prayer Is Asking

By John Wesley

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:13

All who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the way of prayer. This is the express direction of our Lord himself. In his Sermon upon the Mount, after explaining at large wherein religion consists, and describing the main branches of it, he adds, “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” (Matt. 7:7, 8). Here we are in the plainest manner directed to ask, in order to, or as a means of, receiving; to seek, in order to find, the grace of God, the pearl of great price; and to knock, to continue asking and seeking, if we would enter into his kingdom.

That no doubt might remain, our Lord labors this point in a more peculiar manner. He appeals to every man?s own heart. “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven,” the Father of angels and men, the Father of the spirits of all flesh, “give good things to them that ask him?” (9-11). Or, as he expresses himself on another occasion, including all good things in one, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). It should be particularly observed here, that the persons directed to ask had not then received the Holy Spirit: nevertheless our Lord directs them to use this means, and promises that it should be effectual; that upon asking they should receive the Holy Spirit, from him whose mercy is over all his works.

The absolute necessity of using this means, if we would receive any gift from God, yet further appears from that remarkable passage which immediately precedes these words: “And he said unto them,” whom he had just been teaching how to pray, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: . . . I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:5, 7-9).

Compiled by Al Bryant, “The John Wesley Reader”, Word Books

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