ASK, SEEK, KNOCK Luke 11: 5-13
Do you ever feel a wee bit impatient with God? Like, does it ever seem like it takes too long for Him to answer your prayers? Certainly all of us have had questions concerning prayer at some point in our life. Like… – Is He really listening to me?
- Why do I have to keep praying for something I have already prayed for when I know that God is going to answer that prayer one way or another? Isn’t that unbelief Or…
- What about those times when we pray and waited for an answer, and yet no answer is forthcoming? What are we to do? Now after talking about prayer already, in the Sermon on the Mount saying that we should not pray like the show off hypocrites of that time, the Lord continues his instruction by telling a story here in chapter 7 saying,
“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; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Luke records it a little different, Read: Luke 11:5-13 (click on link)
I like Luke’s account because he recalls this story that Jesus told about the man coming to his friends house with a request. Both accounts are still meant to teach the same lesson. So what is Jesus attempting to teach us by telling us this story, this parable? Just like in Matthew 7, Jesus instructs us to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK. And if we approach Father God and ask, seek, and knock, something is going to happen. Those who seek will find. Those who ask will be answered, and those who knock, doors will be opened. But then Jesus goes on and tries to help clarify this by giving these two illustrations.
First of all, the one where a friend comes banging on someone’s door in the middle of the night.
“Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him…”
In order to understand this parable we need to understand a few things about first century culture. First of all, food was not as readily available as it is today. There were of course, no 24 hour stores to run to. Therefore enough bread was baked each day for the needs of that day. Now it was also an accepted rule of hospitality that a visitor should be welcomed and cared for, regardless of the hour of his arrival. In order to avoid the intense midday heat, people often traveled in the evening and after dark. A traveler arriving near midnight was not uncommon.
Here is the dilemma. This poor unprepared host has a late arriving guest who is hungry after a long and exhausting journey and it is his duty as host to provide a meal, but he has no bread. And not to provide for his guest’s would not only bring shame upon himself and his family but to the village as a whole. But what was one to do if he had nothing to serve? Well he’d probably go to a friend’s house regardless of the time and to ask for his help. And this was possibly something they would all have considered doing if they had to.
The rest of the story speaks of this tension, as Jesus continues the story in verse seven,
“…7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’
Even today it is easy to understand this man’s reluctance to help his friend. Anyone who has ever wrestled to get children into bed, understands this man’s unwillingness to do anything that will wake them. But since the whole family slept in the same room, to get up and meet this man’s needs was a real inconvenience. The man inside the house initial refused the request; friendship alone was not a sufficient reason to upset the whole household. Ultimately, the reluctant friend got up and gave his neighbor what he needed. Why? For one reason only, the persistence of the man making the request.
Jesus is not comparing God to a sleepy, selfish and angry neighbor. He is contrasting the two. He is telling the disciples that if a neighbor can be persuaded to meet the needs of a friend, how much more will your FATHER in heaven meet the needs of His children.
And likewise the second illustration is similar.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
So what can we learn from Jesus here?
#1. I believe that Jesus is letting us know, without a doubt that prayer is important.
Not just prayers of thanksgiving and praise, which I believe that God deserves to hear from us every day, Jesus lets us know that all right to ask God for things we need. As a matter of fact it seems as though He wants and expects us to ask. Doesn’t every father or mother expect their children to ask of them? In doing so a child express their confidence in their parent helping them with their need as well as show the comfort they have in that relationship. Many times we won’t ask of strangers but we have no problem asking of someone we love and trust. Same is true when we ask of God. God not only expects his children to ask, it is also a sigh of how much we love and trust Him.
#2. The second thing I see here is that Jesus seems to be indicating that there should be some degree of persistence as one asks of God.
It wasn’t because it was the man’s friend at the door that he got up out of bed to give him bread. Rather the text says in verse 8 that it was because of the man’s boldness or otherwise translated, ‘persistence’ in other versions. It’s the only time the original Greek word used here for persistence appears in the entire New Testament. The Greek word carries the idea of “shamelessness.”
The text tells us that the man who came making the request was without shame, persistent and bold, as he continued pleading and pounding on the door until his friend responded. Maybe the reason for our failure in prayer is that we have not been persistent enough. We haven’t been beating on God’s door asking and seeking enough.
#3. And that leads to the next thought. We may wonder, ‘What gives us the right to come boldly or shamelessly come to God with our needs.’
Maybe this little story will help:
A Roman emperor traveled down the street in his chariot as a part of a parade, Cheering people lined the streets while the legionnaires were stationed to keep the people at a safe distance. The emperor’s family sat on a platform to watch him go by in all the pride of his position. As the emperor came near the place where his family was stationed, a young boy jumped from the platform, burrowed through the crowd, and tried to dodge a legionnaire so he could run to the emperor’s chariot. The soldier stopped him and said, “You cannot go near him.” The boy laughed, then said; “He may be your emperor but he is my father.” Then he ran into his father’s open arms.”
The writer of Hebrew reminds us as believer’s that because our high priest Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, we can “come boldly before the throne of grace” (Hebews 4:14-16). We have no need to fear because we are children of the King of kings. Over and over we see that if Jesus wanted to communicate anything it was that God is not some kind of distant, all powerful, impersonal deity. Rather God is our abba Father who art in heaven and Holy is his name. From the very beginning HE wanted sons and daughters that would be His children.
Listen to what the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:3-6
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” NLT
As a son, and a daughter you have every right to plead to your Father in heaven, and I believe he expects us to do so.
I believe another thing we see here in the text is that…
#4 WE ARE TO PRAY EXPECTANTLY
From the first story we learned that God does answer prayer, and from this second analogy we learn that His answers are always good ones. Because God is a good God, a loving heavenly Father, He can be expected not only to answer our prayers, but in answer them in such a way that they will be for our highest good. (Romans 8:28) The bottom line of the whole matter is now given in Matt. 7:10,
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Now I believe that as we keep asking and seeking, part of this seeking is seeking to discover what God’s will is in the matter. I don’t think God will put things into our hands until we’re ready or He first prepares our hearts. God has a plan and we need to accept His timing and plan. Someone has said it this way,
“The greatest blessing of prayer is not just getting an answer but being the kind of person that God can trust with the answer.”
And sometime that answer will be a “NO.” Today I want to remind you that you have a Father in Heaven who does care for your needs. He wants you to ask, seek, and knock with persistence and expectation. We need to be reminded that He isn’t being mean by having us wait for what we ask for, nor is He being cruel by saying no. Rather, like a perfectly loving parent we need to trust Him, not only trust Him in His timing and but also trust His judgments as well. I pray that you can have that kind of relationship with Him.
(Based a little on a sermon by John Hamby)