SOM - Part 20 found here.
Jesus says stuff that is open to a wide range of interpretations. Like in these verses, where He says to ask, seek and knock, and it will be given to you. Some could interpret this as saying God will give us whatever we ask, and they are forever looking for the formula to get God to do that. Good luck with that. Others could use these verses to show that the Bible is not true, because we don't get whatever we ask for. So what is the truth?
The truth can be found by looking at the context of the sermon. Jesus has already established in His model prayer that when we ask (pray), we ask for our daily bread, not our daily filet mignon. The whatever in this context is a prayer coming from someone who has faith in God. Someone who is asking not for themselves, but asking within the will of God. Someone who trusts God, and understands that God may have a different path than we would prefer.
Jesus makes reference to the way a father gives gifts. I am a dad. I love my children. Yet sometimes I do not give them what they ask for. Does that mean that I really do not love them? No. It means that I make decisions based on what I believe is best for each one and all of them, I make decisions based on the limits of my abilities. But if they ask for a hamburger, I certainly do not give them a bowl of mud. So while they may not get the desired outcome, ultimately their needs are provided for.
Take Away: I need to be careful and aware of how I approach the understanding of Scripture. I also need to be careful and aware of what I listen to and believe when others share what they believe about Scripture. That last part has gotten me into a few pickles over the years, but I stand by the importance of not taking anyone's word on a matter just because of who they are (see Acts 17:11). I think God expects this, and will hold us accountable (and them) for words that are not truth.
I also need to be aware of my motive and expectation when asking God for something. I think of the Garth Brooks song, Unanswered Prayers. In the song, he runs into his old high school flame while with his wife at a football game. He thought his flame was the one for life for him, and must have made that a prayer, for from his current perspective, he now realizes that the way things are are better than what they would have been. He thanks God for the unanswered prayer, saying that such unanswered prayers are among God's greatest gifts. Now I am not here to debate the theology of that song, I just want to make the point that we look at things from our perspective, and we cannot see into the future. God can, and does. And He is a good Father.