Just yesterday I was part of an interesting discussion about what “Seek and you will find, ask and you will receive, knock and the door will be opened” means. Let me take this opportunity to restate that it is always appropriate to take our needs and desires to God in prayer, no matter what those needs and desires are. However, no, not everything we seek will we find, not everything we ask for will be given, and not every door upon which we knock will be opened.
Has that been your experience, that everything you pray about happens? Of course not, God is not Santa Claus.
It is important to remember that the “ask and you will receive” bit comes at the end of the story that begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus proceeds by teaching them what has come to be known as The Lord’s Prayer. He concludes this lesson by telling them when you ask, seek, and knock to receive these things – God’s Kingdom here on earth, God’s will done here on earth, enough of what we need just for today, forgiveness as we also forgive, resistance to temptation and deliverance from evil – when this is what we are after we will get it.
The requests from the Lord’s Prayer are the most important things in life – not just the most important things for us, but the important things for everyone. When these are the things we seek, we are on the path of righteousness. When these are the things we receive, we are truly blessed. But when we are truly blessed, not everyone is going to be happy about it.
Human beings get this idea that there is only so much of God’s love to go around. Ridiculous! And yet we see life in terms of the more someone else gets, the less there is for us to get. This is also known as scarcity. Remember Jesus said that he came to bring life, abundant life, for everyone and not just for the ones God loves the most. There is no such thing as the ones God loves the most. God loves everyone.
Granted, God is not always happy with us, any of us, and perhaps some of us less than others. God judges all of us and we all come up short. just how short we come up is not something God cares about that much. Our turning back toward God is what God cares about.
When any of us has a powerful event as the result of an encounter with God’s love, God’s judgment, God’s forgiveness, it can change our lives. It changes us. It changes how we relate to God. It changes how we relate to the rest of God’s children. It changes our priorities. It changes our direction. Life is different for us, and in a sense for anyone who comes in contact with us. Life is abundant. We are more whole, more at peace, more empowered to seek and do God’s will.
When God does something powerful in your life, other people aren’t necessarily going to like it. Maybe they don’t like it because it happened to you and not to them. Maybe they don’t like it because they want to be in control, not empowered to seek and to do the will of God.
I have as many control issues as the next person. I probably a lot more control issues than most of the people who will read this. Surrender is not usually an attractive word to me. It reeks of defeat. But surrendering to the control and will of God is a big part of what following Christ is about. Figuring out the will of God as opposed to what others are trying to assert is the will of God, ah, that’s the difficult part. But if we ask…that’s right, we will receive.
John 12:10-11 tell us, “So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” Jesus called new life to come out of the tomb, but there were those who didn’t receive this as good news. Not at all. They saw the call as a threat. They saw the called as a threat. They saw the caller as a threat. All three were a threat to those with power and position and in their minds all three had to be eliminated.
It is dangerous to be on the side of God, constantly seeking God’s will and the power to carry that will out. It is not at all a guarantee of safety or power or position. Nevertheless, it is who we are called to be. Nevertheless, it is what we are called to do. Nevertheless, we persist.