Moreover, the promises of this section are additionally restricted to those who are obedient children. This is implied in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, but it is seen more clearly in other passages. Take 1 John 3:22, for example. This verse says, “And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Why does John say that his prayers are always being answered? It is because he is a member of God’s family, of course. However, it is also more than that. John says that it is because he keeps God’s commandments and because he seeks to please Him. The person who does that can be certain that his prayers will be heard and that all of them will be answered.
I know that someone will say, “But isn’t God the Father of all men? And doesn’t he hear all prayers?” The answer to that is, “No, He is not.” And He does not hear the prayers of those who are not in His family.
Do you know what the Lord Jesus Christ taught in the thirteenth chapter of Luke, verses 24-30? It is almost the exact counterpart of the text we are considering, and the point of Luke’s passage is that there can be no answer to those who are not in God’s family. Jesus had just taught that the only ones who would be saved were those who entered in by the narrow gate. He was referring to faith in Himself. He added that many would seek to enter by other means but would not be able. He then uttered this great sentence, “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand outside, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know not from whence ye are; Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and have drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know not from where ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” In both cases there is an asking, and in both cases there is a knocking. But in Matthew it is the child of God who is knocking, and in Luke it is the unbeliever.
If we are to exercise the spiritual discrimination and judgment that Christ was talking about in verse six (“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine”), then we must apply verses 7-11 to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ only. We must read the verse this way: “Ask [you who are born again], and it shall be given you [who are born again]; seek [you who are born again], and you [who are born again] shall find; knock [you who are born again], and it shall be opened unto you [who are born again].” Prayer is for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ only.