And I tell you, 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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
The Amplified version of this scripture really brings out the essence of the original language for the words used for “ask,” “seek” and “knock.” The way it comes across in the version above sounds like it’s suggesting that we ask or knock just once. But the Amplified says: “Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking.” Jesus is saying here that He understands the resistance that will occur in our prayer life. He understands that our minds wander, that we lose focus, that we get discouraged, that we get distracted. Jesus is not unaware of the challenges we face in praying to someone we can’t see. Jesus is not blind to the barriers that we create, or which the world creates, that hinder us from entering into prayer—and ultimately receiving His love and His Spirit as a result of spending time in prayer.
It is so nice to read this parable and be reminded that Jesus is aware of our humanity and does not judge us—but rather brings revelation and hidden truths about prayer to us so that we don’t give up or don’t stop praying. When my son Brooks asks for something that he really wants or needs, he will never ask me once but rather he will keep asking until I respond and he gets what he wants. Jesus wants us to be childlike in our asking, seeking and knocking. Brooks constantly is seeking—by asking questions and seeking to understand—and is not embarrassed to ask silly questions. Brooks is not timid when he knocks on our bedroom door or when barges into our room. There is no sense of timidity. When he knocks, he really knocks and keeps knocking. Jesus wants us to be like this with Him.
Shameless asking says we understand who He is. Our tempered asking, or our once-off asking, says we don’t really believe He is able or willing to do it—or to give us what we are asking for. Humility is not timid; it is actually bold. Humility is bold because it is agreeing with who God is. Pride says that we know what God will say before He answers—so what’s the point in asking? Humility is boldly asking and knowing that nothing is impossible for God.
But what about unanswered prayer? Maybe we have been knocking and asking and seeking—and feel like we are not getting through. With Brooks, there are things that, even though he doesn’t stop asking, it doesn’t mean that we will give it to him. It can be the same with us, in our praying.
That’s why Jesus teaches us, in the Lord’s prayer, to pray in accordance to His will. His will becomes clear when His name is lifted up. His name is easy to lift up when you see what kind of Father He is to all of us. So it’s this teaching on prayer, to us as his disciples, that helps shape our shameless asking, seeking and knocking.
Another important thing to note, however, is that most things which Brooks ask for are almost always good things. Ice cream is not bad, but ice cream all the time or ice cream for breakfast might not be the wisest choice for a 4-year-old. But it’s not that his persistent and shameless asking of ice cream will never be answered; rather, it’s the timing and order in which I, as his father, will answer that request.
Many things we are asking God for are good, but likewise it’s just that He knows more than we do and He knows the perfect timing. But in the meantime, what’s most important and powerful is that Brooks knows he can ask me anything, and he can come to me with what's on his heart because it’s about the love we have for each other, not just the thing he is wanting. This is even more true and important with God—and the point Jesus is getting across to us. He is revealing that the Father is willing and wanting to give us what we need, so don’t give up in asking and knocking. But when you’re asking isn’t answered the way you thought or in your timing, trust the relationship and the character and the love of your Heavenly Father to know that He has your best in mind. If I, as a human father, have the best in mind for my son Brooks, how much more does our Heavenly Father have the best in mind for us?
So don’t stop asking, don’t stop seeking, and don’t stop knocking, for you will receive, you will find, and the door will open for you on the other side of the seeming inconvenience of prayer. On the other side of the barriers we create in our mind is a loving, good and perfect Father who is longing to bless us with His presence.
It’s worth not giving up. Let’s pray, and keep on praying!
// Pastor Josh Kelsey