Turn on late night Christian TV – at just about any time between 10pm and 5am – and you’ll see him. His name will change. Sometimes he’s old and sometimes he’s young. He may be Caucasian, Latino-American, African-American, Asian-American, or somewhere in between. He may be the pastor of a large church, or some guy sitting behind a desk in his office with a camera pointed at him. It may not even be a “him.” It could be a “her.” But the message will be the same:
Jesus said “Ask and you shall receive!” You have to believe! You have to have faith! God doesn’t want you living “under the circumstances!” He’s created you to live ABOVE the circumstances! But you have to ask in faith, not doubting. God wants to bless you, just ask Him!
Ask. Seek. Knock. The trifecta of the prayer of faith.
Of course, we know these verses. There in several of the Gospels. But we are so eager to ask for what WE want, that we fail to continue to read the verses after. Luke’s version gives us what we’re looking for. He shows this is about asking for more than a new job; more money; a husband or wife; healing; a new car. Let me show you:
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 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. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
– Luke 11:5-12 ESV
For those of us suffering from spiritual ADHD, it’s easy to miss the point. Jesus is telling a parable about a man who goes to his neighbor in the middle of the night pleading for a loaf of bread. The neighbor doesn’t want to get up and help him, but eventually the persistence of the requester forces him to concede. The man keeps asking for the bread; seeking an answer; and knocking on the door, until he gets what he wants.
So, we stop there. We believe that Jesus wants us to ask and seek and knock for our needs and wants in the same way. And that’s correct, but with one small caveat: what Jesus wants us to be persistently asking, seeking, and knocking for is described in verse 13:
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
– Luke 11:13 ESV
The TV preachers seem to be getting it wrong. Jesus isn’t teaching us to ask, seek, and knock for our wants, or even our physical needs. Those are requests that we must definitely bring to Him, and the promises throughout the Bible about the Father’s provision for our needs are abundant. But Jesus is calling us to ask, and keep on asking; to seek, and keep on seeking; to knock, and keep on knocking, until the power of the Spirit of God falls on us to accomplish the overwhelmingly important task of bringing His Kingdom to this earth, just as it is in Heaven.
Without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we have no hope of carrying the Gospel of the Kingdom to the hurting world around us. Fortunately, Luke 11 teaches us that we can ask our Father; seek His face; knock on the gates of Heaven, and He will answer.
I’ve got some praying to do. The new house can wait.