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. Or 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 give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:7-11
These are the words of the Lord in the New Testament. Now, most people believe this saying is not true because they asked God to win the lottery and it did not happen. But we must read the words carefully: our Father will only give what is “GOOD” for us. The problem is that most of us do not know what is spiritually “GOOD” for us. However, God does know everything about us because He is omniscient. And He also knows what our real purpose is in the universe. Our real purpose is not to become wealthy and famous and be served and glorified by others; it is to generate a spiritual body that has the capacity to reside in the enlightened and joyful spheres of Heaven where we are spiritually conjoined with God and other angels.
In most cases, if any of us were to win the lottery, we would probably begin to satisfy all our selfish desires and lusts until we would fall into perversion, addiction, bondage and suffering (hell). We would also probably lose all our real friends because they would begin to love us only for our wealth. This is often what happens to lottery winners. And some even acknowledge that they were less miserable before they became winners. Hence, winning the lottery would only be disastrous for our soul and spiritual destiny. We need to struggle in the world and still obey our conscience because this is how we build our spiritual body and purify our soul.
In fact, God created the universe in order to express His Love or to give to others. How do we ask God? And what should we ask for? God’s Love and Wisdom are continually flowing into Heaven and Earth. But, like we must open our hands to receive a gift, we must open our heart and mind to receive all that is Good and True.
This Love and Wisdom flows into minerals, plants, animals, birds and human beings and manifests in the world. If we are ill and ask God for healing, He will flow into our heart and mind and heal us internally but He will also manifest this healing through a benevolent doctor or surgeon. If we seek employment and keep an open heart, mind and eye, God will enlighten our mind and we will see opportunities in many places. If we seek Wisdom, we will be led to the appropriate sources of knowledge. If you ask God for a fish (science), He will not give you a serpent (sensual knowledge); He will give you spiritual knowledge as well. In addition, He will give you the science of correspondences in order to link science and religion.
Many years ago, like most people, I was very puzzled by the events in the world. Everything seemed absurd to my mind. How could a Loving God create such a universe where evil flourished on earth? I read hundreds of books on science, philosophy, spirituality and religion but obtained no real or satisfying answers. And the Bible itself was the most baffling book of all, a book filled with war, violence and corruption. Was God really angry, jealous and revengeful? And was this really the message from God? One day, I asked God to help me understand the universe and the Bible. From that day, I just kept an open heart and an open mind. It was not too long after that I came across the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. After studying Swedenborg’s works, a great Light shone into my mind and it all made sense.
To all appearances, it seems as though God has abandoned us in a cruel, meaningless and purposeless world to fend for ourselves. This is the appearance, not the reality. Like we have an intention and a plan before we do anything, God had a purpose and a plan before He created the universe. There is a real purpose and reason we are in this harsh and cruel world. We need to evolve from the earth to acquire a self that is separate from God. It is only in the spiritual equilibrium of Earth where we can freely choose between Good (usefulness and unselfishness) and evil (selfishness), between Truth (rationality) and falsehood (lies, fantasy, insanity). And it is only what we intend and do from the freedom of this natural self that can become truly our own. Nevertheless, God is still very close to us. He is the Love that flows into our heart, the Light or Wisdom that flows into our mind and the Power that flows into our hands. Without even asking, God gave us the most precious gift of all: FREEWILL or Love itself. And we are free to reciprocate this Love or to misuse and abuse it.
Therefore, we should know that what God desires for us is infinitely better than what we would ever desire from our limited perspective. We desire to be wealthy in this temporal world but God desires that we possess an abundance of spiritual gold (Love) in an everlasting Heaven. We desire to be healthy in this temporal world but God desires that we be holy (spiritually healthy) in an everlasting or eternal Kingdom (Heaven). We desire to be glorified in this fleeting and finite world but God desires that we have a noble function in the eternal fields of Heaven. Hence, we should accept our temporal circumstances and trust In God’s Divine Providence because God is infinitely wiser than we are and He knows what is eternally Good for us.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. We are constantly taught that the grace of God, though freely offered, must yet be earnestly and actively sought to be obtained. There is a philosophy that harmonizes these seemingly discordant facts. Our prayers are not to induce God to give, but to fit us to receive. And to fit us to receive the gifts of God, all our faculties must be brought into activity. We must ask with the heart, seek with the understanding, knock with the life. All these are to be employed, and their operation continued, in order that we may receive. God delights to give. He waits to be gracious. All that is required on our part is to be earnest in our desire and efforts to receive.
The promise of receiving is as certain as the duty of asking is imperative, and is as significantly expressed. Every one that asketh, receiveth: for asking and receiving, which are the briefest and directest modes of communication, express the desire for good from God, and its reception by the will. And he that seeketh findeth: for the understanding searches and seeks for the means of salvation, and finds the object of its search in the riches of wisdom and knowledge. And to him that knocketh it shall be opened: for the bringing of the principles of the will and the understanding into the life and conversation opens the door of communication between the Lord and man, and between the spiritual and natural degrees of man’s own mind, and not only brings them into communion, but into conjunction with each other.
It is worthy of remark that in teaching us the character of our Father in heaven, and his dealings with his children, the Lord does not employ abstract terms or use the arguments of reason, but simply appeals to those affections of our nature which he himself has implanted, and which, being possessed alike by all, are the ground of universal perception. He appeals to our instincts rather than to our reason, in proof of his Fatherly tenderness and beneficence. And this appeal will be seen to be the more appropriate when we reflect that the love of parents for their children is an offshoot from his own love for his children of the human race, and is implanted in all human hearts, notwithstanding their hereditary corruption, as it is in the nature of all the inferior creatures, the fiercest as well as the gentlest. The Lord does not therefore refer us to those parents who are regenerate and holy, and in whom the image of their Father has been restored, but to the fallen race of men without distinction. If, this simple fact had been always kept in view, how much obscurity would have been avoided and controversy prevented respecting the character and dealings of God. The universality and unchangeableness of the Divine Love could not have been for a moment doubted. What encouragement does this give us to come to the Lord in all our necessities, in the confidence that he will listen to us not only with all a father’s love, but that he will supply our wants with all a father’s wisdom. Let us see what his language involves.
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? What parent, indeed, would thus mock the wants and abuse the confidence of his hungering and pleading child? The force of this appeal as a comparison, consists in the fact, that natural affection is sufficient to prompt a father to supply the natural wants of his son, when those wants are expressed. But these words have a spiritual meaning. Like the loaves and fishes with which the Lord fed the multitude, the bread and fish are symbolical of the two essential principles of goodness and truth, which sustain the voluntary and intellectual life of the soul. So we read in the Word of “bread that strengtheneth man’s heart” (Ps. civ. 14); for the heart is the symbol of the will, and good, which is specifically meant by bread, is that principle by which the life of the will is sustained. The will, thus sustained, is called a heart of flesh, which is the living goodness into which the appropriated bread of life is turned. But while in the Word we read of a heart of flesh, we read also of a heart of stone (Ezek. xi. 19). These are not mere figures to express penitence and impenitence of heart, but are real correspondences. And as the heart of flesh denotes a will renewed by the reception of principles of goodness, the stony heart is the unrenewed will, hardened by unbelief and its resulting evil, as is expressed in Zechariah, – “They have made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law” (vii. 12). To give a stone to a son who asks bread would therefore be to give him a false good for a true one, and so turn the will into a heart of stone. So in regard to the fish, which signifies truth that nourishes the understanding and forms a true faith. A serpent is the emblem of sensual truth. But these things are here evidently to be understood in a sense opposite to that of their genuine meaning – the stone of what is false grounded in evil, and the serpent of self-derived prudence These given for bread and fish torment and destroy spiritual life. But before a son can desire, and a father can give spiritual food, which is the knowledge of spiritual things, they must themselves be to some extent spiritually-minded: and then they are the emblems of the Lord and his children. We are the children of our heavenly Father when we desire that he will feed our hungering souls with heavenly goodness and truth, as while on earth he fed the bodies of the fainting multitude with loaves and fishes.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much, more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? It is the result and evidence of a merciful Providence that, notwithstanding man’s state of moral evil, he is endowed with natural affection for his offspring, which prompts him to love them tenderly, and anxiously supply their natural wants, and in every possible way to provide for their temporal welfare. This, it is true, is an affection common to man and animals; yet it is inspired by the Author of nature, and is given alike to the mild and ferocious among animals, and to the best and worst among men. The fact, therefore, that men, being evil, yet know how to give good gifts to their children – gifts that are good as natural means for a natural end – is a proof and assurance to us that God will much more give good things to them that ask him. It is not possible that he who is goodness itself can withhold a good thing from any one who sincerely asks him. As he has implanted natural affection in all human hearts, both good and evil, so has he bountifully provided for all men’s natural wants, without respect of persons, and without solicitation. Those things which God requires to be asked before he gives are spiritual things such as are necessary for sustaining the life of good in the soul, and securing its spiritual and eternal welfare. These are not given unasked – that is, undesired and unsought for; because desire is to the soul what hunger is to the body, and the desire for heavenly good must exist before that good can be supplied. The mind has an inherent desire for food as well as the body; but here the moral condition of the mind determines the nature of the desire, and consequently of the kind of good which is craved. Those who have become conscious of their spiritual wants, and desire the spiritual good which is necessary to supply them, will find the Lord, as their heavenly Father, infinitely more ready to give the good things which are necessary for sustaining the true life of the soul than any earthly parent can be to give temporal gifts unto his children. AUTHOR: WILLIAM BRUCE (1866)