“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Many years ago in Toronto I was praying one morning when the voice of the Lord seemed to cut in abruptly. The words I heard were these,
“Don’t come to me as a beggar, come as a son.”
As I prayerfully pondered the implications of the words some things began to clarify themselves in my mind.
Firstly, I knew that I am a son of God because He had led me very specifically to that truth through Scripture. Therefore, I need to own that truth and relationship and live into it. I have the Christ-given right to approach God myself and to enter into His presence – knowing that I will always be welcomed and heard. I am not a beggar standing beyond the gates and calling out in the hope that someone might hear and have pity on me. It is clear, too, from the verses that follow that Jesus had a father-child relationship in mind. I must relate to God as my Father and not as some benevolent stranger.
Secondly, this particular statement forms part of Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. It was addressed principally to those whom He had called and who had joined Him on the journey towards God. It was not an undertaking given to all and sundry – although its promise remains true for all those who have committed themselves to the Lord down through the ages.
Thirdly, we are called to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. This is not a process of wearing God down but an indication of our purpose, sincerity and commitment. It is very easy to fall into the trap of treating God as the genie in the bottle – there to serve us and to respond to our every whim. Fortunately for us and for others He does not. As we continue with our prayer we discover just how important the request is to us and whether we have identified the need correctly. We might also find that God wants us to become a part of the solution and not to pass it all on to Him.
Finally, there is the promise that God will hear and that He will respond. He will not ignore us or our prayer. How He responds will be up to Him. He will not do what we ask where it is wrong or unhelpful or where it is not in line with His will. ‘No’ is just as much of a loving response as ‘wait’ or ‘yes.’ I have often found that the right starting point for me is to discuss the situation with my Father, with the options that I see, and then to ask Him how he would want me to pray. We must remember that the chief purpose of prayer is to seek the fulfillment of God’s will. A part of that will is to bless His beloved children, but He also has a far wider purpose and perspective.
Whatever approach we adopt the important thing is to pray and to keep on praying. We all need more of His presence and involvement in our lives, and in the life of the world in which we live. Through our prayers we may receive, find and discover far more than we ever imagined.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Father please lead me to pray continually and never to give up. Amen.