Matt. 7:7-12 (Part 1)

7:7ff HERMAS: He says to me, “Put away doubting from you and do not hesitate to ask of the Lord, saying to yourself, ‘How can I ask of the Lord and receive from Him, seeing I have sinned so much against Him?' Do not thus reason with yourself, but with all your heart turn to the Lord and ask of Him without doubting, and you will know the multitude of His tender mercies; that He will never leave you, but fulfill the request of your soul. For He is not like men, who remember evils done against them; but He Himself does not remember evils, and has compassion on His own creature. Cleanse, therefore, your heart from all the vanities of this world, and from the words already mentioned, and ask of the Lord and you will receive all, and in none of your requests will you be denied which you make to the Lord without doubting.

“But if you doubt in your heart, you will receive none of your requests. For those who doubt regarding God are double-souled, and obtain not one of their requests. But those who are perfect in faith ask everything, trusting in the Lord; and they obtain, because they ask nothing doubting, and not being double- souled. For every double-souled man, even if he repent, will with difficulty be saved. Cleanse your heart, therefore, from all doubt, and put on faith, because it is strong, and trust God that you will obtain from Him all that you ask. And if at any time, after you have asked of the Lord, you are slower in obtaining your request than you expected, do not doubt because you have not soon obtained the request of your soul; for invariably it is on account of some temptation or some sin of which you are ignorant that you are slower in obtaining your request. Therefore do not cease to make the request of your soul, and you will obtain it.

“But if you grow weary and waver in your request, blame yourself, and not Him who does not give to you. Consider this doubting state of mind, for it is wicked and senseless, and turns many away entirely from the faith, even though they be very strong. For this doubting is the daughter of the devil, and acts exceedingly wickedly to the servants of God. Despise, then, doubting, and gain the mastery over it in everything; clothing yourself with faith, which is strong and powerful. For faith promises all things, perfects all things; but doubt having no thorough faith in itself, fails in every work which it undertakes. You see, then,” he says, “that, faith is from above—from the Lord—and has great power; but doubt is an earthly spirit, coming from the devil, and has no power. Serve, then, that which has power, namely faith, and keep away from doubt, which has no power, and you will live to God. And all will live to God whose minds have been set on these things.” The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.26

HERMAS: “How, then,” he continued, “can such a one ask and obtain anything from the Lord, if he does not serve Him? They who serve Him shall obtain their requests, but they who do not serve Him shall receive nothing. The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.33.

TATIAN: Ask, and you shall be given to; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Every one that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and he that knocks, it shall be opened to him. What father of you, if his son asks for bread—will he give him a stone? And if he asks of him a fish, will he instead of the fish give him a serpent? And if he ask him for an egg, will he extend to him a scorpion? If you then, although being evil, know the gifts which are good, and give them to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: this is the law and the prophets.
The Diatessaron, 9.59-60.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: For he whose it is to desire nothing that is not in our power, and to obtain by asking from God what he piously desires, does he not possess much, rather all, having God as his everlasting treasure? “To him that asks,” it is said, “will be given, and to him that knocks it will be opened.” The Instructor, 2.280.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Word does not wish him who has believed to be idle. For He says, “Seek, and you shall find.” But seeking ends in finding, driving out the empty trifling, and approving of the contemplation which confirms our faith. The Stromata, 2.312.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “Ask, and it shall be given you,” it is said to those who are able of themselves to choose what is best. And how we say that the powers of the devil, and the unclean spirits, sow into the sinner’s soul, requires no more words from me, on adducing as a witness the apostolic Barnabas (and he was one of the seventy, and a fellow-worker of Paul), who speaks in these words: “Before we believed in God, the dwelling-place of our heart was unstable, truly a temple built with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a house of demons, through doing what was opposed to God.”  The Stromata, 2.372.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “Seek, and you shall find,” holding on by the truly royal road, and not deviating. The Stromata, 2.410.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Faith must not be inert and alone, but accompanied with investigation. For I do not say that we are not to inquire at all. For “Search, and you shall find,” The Stromata, 2.447.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The righteous man will seek the discovery that flows from love, to which if he hastens he prospers. For it is said, “To him that knocks, it shall be opened: ask, and it shall be given to you.” “For the violent that storm the kingdom” are not so in argumentative speeches; but by continuance in a right life and unceasing prayers, are said “to take it by force,” wiping away the blots left by their previous sins. The Stromata, 2.448.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Now thanksgiving and request for the conversion of our neighbors is the function of the Christian; as also the Lord prayed, giving thanks for the accomplishment of His ministry, praying that as many as possible might attain to knowledge; that in the saved, by salvation, through knowledge, God might be glorified, and He who is alone good and alone Savior might be acknowledged through the Son from age to age. The Stromata, 2.534.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: His whole life is prayer and converse with God. And if he be pure from sins, he will by all means obtain what he wishes. For God says to the righteous man, “Ask, and I will give to you; think, and I will do.” If beneficial, he will receive it at once; and if injurious, he will never ask it, and therefore he will not receive it. So it shall be as he wishes. But if one say to us, that some sinners even obtain according to their requests, we should say that this rarely takes place, by reason of the righteous goodness of God. And it is granted to those who are capable of doing others good. As a consequence the gift is not made for the sake of him that asked it; but the divine dispensation, foreseeing that one would be saved by his means, renders the favor again righteous. And to those who are worthy, things which are really good are given, even without their asking.

Whenever, then, one is righteous, not from necessity or out of fear or hope, but from free choice, this is called the royal road, which the royal race travel. But the byways are slippery and precipitous. If, then, one take away fear and honor, I do not know if the illustrious among the philosophers, who use such freedom of speech, will any longer endure afflictions. The Stromata, 2.544.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The human ideal of self-restraint, I mean that which is set forth by Greek philosophers, teaches that one should fight desire and not be subservient to it so as to bring it to practical effect. But our ideal is not to experience desire at all. Our aim is not that while a man feels desire he should get the better of it, but that he should be continent even respecting desire itself. This chastity cannot be attained in any other way except by God's grace. That was why he said “Ask and it shall be given you.” This grace was received even by Moses, though clothed in his needy body, so that for forty days he felt neither thirst nor hunger.4 Just as it is better to be in good health than for a sick man to talk about health, so to be light is better than to discuss light, and true chastity is better than that taught by the philosophers. Where there is light there is no darkness. But where there is inward desire, even if it goes no further than desire and is inactive so far as bodily action is concerned, union takes place in thought with the object of desire, although that object is not present. On Marriage.

© OTR 2023