Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock

Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10

Ask with humility and consciousness of need. Jesus tells us to ask him in prayer. Here the verb aiteō (αιτέω, ask) has the meaning of asking for something.[1] When one asks in Christ, we ask with family or redemptive rights. In prayer, we ask God with humility because we have confidence in his promises. His promises are based on His character. We come to the Lord as dependent children, needing Him and His love and the basics of life.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to ask the Father with due reverence (Matt 6:9), in submission to His will, with the priority of His Name and His vision of what He wants to do on the earth (Matt. 6:10). We learn daily dependence (Matt 6:11), to keep a clean slate of forgiveness, to show mercy to others (Matt 6:12), to live free from sin and oppression of the evil one (Matt 6:13a), and that all things will finally find consummation in His Glory (Matt 6:13b). It is all about His Glory.

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 34:10, 84:11). Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). See also James 1:5-6a.

Seek in prayer, actively pursuing God’s will. Seeking implies that we are searching for something that is missing. Jesus commands us to seek diligently and earnestly with our whole hearts, he assures us that we will find. Seeking is boldly asking. The Greek word zēteō (ζητέω)means to look for in order to find, or what one desires somehow to bring into relation with oneself or to obtain without knowing where it is to be found, or as in Matt. 6:33, to strive for, aim at, desire, or wish.[2] Jesus illustrated seeking prayer as a persistent petitioner who sought relief from one in authority who had power to answer (Luke 18:1-8). Three parables in Luke 15 point to the treasures that seekers find – a lost coin, a lost sheep, a lost son. Jesus plainly said in Matthew 7:7-8 that seeking will result in finding. See also Deut 4:29; 2 Chron 5:12; Heb 11:6.

Knock points to persistence. Knocking implies being outside and needing entrance (Rev 3:20), with the assurance in Matt. 7:7-8 that the door will be opened. Jesus taught fervent, insistent prayer like a desperate friend in need (Luke 11:5-8) and then commands us to ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-10). The Greek word krouō (κρούω)has the meaning of striking or knocking literally only of knocking at a door.[3] Jesus urges us to intercede with the holy boldness of a close friendship relationship with God. Knock at a radical hour of the night. Knock with desperation. Knock with importunity. Knock boldly. Knock shamelessly, Jesus urged. He assured that insistence, tenacity, and stubborn knocking will bring a response.

Why? Because we have a confidence based on the blood of Jesus, a Great High Priest who offers full assurance because He is faithful (Heb 10:19-23, 36). How do we come to Him? We come boldly to the throne of grace for help in time of need (Heb 4:16). If even a neighbor or an earthly father will respond to need, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:11-13). The Holy Spirit enables us to pray according to the Lord’s will (Luke 11:13; Rom 8:26-27).
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that αιτεωwe have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).[4]

[1] BAGD, 2nd ed., 25-6.
[2] BAGD, 2nd ed., 338-9.
[3] BAGD, 2nd ed., 453-4.
[4] Adapted from Sylvia Gunter, Prayer Essentials for Living in His Presence, 2:121-2.