Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The above verse is one (of many) that prosperity teachers use to enforce the false belief that if we keep asking God for what we want, He'll give it to us, because He gives good things to those who ask. Unfortunately, the dollar signs in their eyes make it hard for prosperity teachers to see the truths in this verse. So what was Jesus really saying?
What is at the heart of faith in Jesus Christ? It is knowing that we are forgiven of our sins, because of His sacrifice on the cross. And because we have been forgiven, we may come before the Father with our requests, knowing they will be heard. But, Jesus is not talking about using God as a personal Genie or Santa Claus, to make all your wishes come true. This is where the prosperity gospel goes off the rails and in fact, uses God exactly in that fashion for all manner of fleshly desires.
But what the verse above is really about is the Holy Spirit, who comes to take up residence within those who have given their lives to Christ. Jesus was not promising that we will receive whatever we ask for like a big house, more money, or perfect health. These are not the things that will help us to become more Christlike. They are only temporary things, earthly things - here today and gone tomorrow. They have no lasting value. When preachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis say that they can't spread the gospel without their own private jet, you know that isn't true! No one needs a jet to spread the gospel. All you have to do is step outside your door, cross the street and share the gospel with your neighbour! And if God is calling you to spread the gospel overseas, He doesn't need to GIVE you a jet to do that. At most, He may provide the funds to get you there, but He is not going to spend His money frivolously so that you can travel in style. Why in the world do prosperity teachers believe for one moment that they deserve these luxuries? Because they have taken Scripture out of context! Jesus walked this earth with no place to lay his head and call home (Matthew 8:19-20) and yet these false preachers have the audacity to think that they deserve better. They have placed their faith in things that have no eternal value. The gospel they preach is not the real gospel, and so those who fund them are not spreading the truth, but helping to spread lies and are just as complicit in their deception as the preachers themselves are.
Asking, seeking and knocking is not about praying for earthly things that have no value. But who we are in Christ, who we become in Him because of the Holy Spirit who lives within us and guides us, does have lasting value. It is eternal, as we will always and forever have the Holy Spirit living within us, preparing us for the day when we meet God face to face. As the Holy Spirit directs our hearts, we will desire those things that God desires. And so when Jesus says, "Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you," He is talking about receiving His Holy Spirit, seeking His forgiveness and guidance, and being persistent in doing so, because it will help us as we prepare to meet the Lord. The door will be opened to us because we will be whole and complete in Christ Jesus!
Yes, our Heavenly Father knows how to give good things to those who ask Him, but they will always have an eternal value. They will not be fleeting, they will be lasting and they will accomplish His purposes for His Kingdom and for our growth. This is how we prosper - by keeping ourselves attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. For He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6).
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
The verse above is often used by Christians as a source of comfort when our plans fall through, or life just gets too hard. I know in my own life, because I have so much to deal with in relation to my health, it's nice to have one of those "go to" verses that help me to not lose hope or give up entirely.
Prosperity teachers would have you believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is all about how God wants us to prosper financially. But that is not what this verse is all about. So what does Jeremiah 29:11 tell us about God? What are His plans for us? In order to get to the heart of this verse, we need to first take it in context. This was a message from God to the Jews who were being held in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. The verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 are specifically to tell the Jewish people that God had a plan and after seventy years, He would bring them back to Jerusalem. You can read the whole chapter at Biblegateway.com.
So, does that mean the verse has no benefit for us today? On the contrary, we are at the heart of God's plans. So what does this verse tell us?