Luke 11:9 “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.”
- Knock – This has always seemed out of order to me. It seems you would have to knock before you ask or seek.
ASK – When and why do we ask? Asking implies our request is something we can’t do ourselves. We ask
- When we need permission
- When we are under authority, this implies submission
- When we need help because we can’t do it for ourselves
- Lack of skill – don’t know how
- Lack of ability -Too hard, out of reach, requires partnership, requires Divine Power
- Lack of opportunity – time?
- Lack of resources – money, people
- When we want something we can’t get for ourselves
- Lack of a plan or a vision
- Lack of wisdom
What if we ask for the wrong reasons? Does the context eliminate that situation? The context previous to verse 9 is a friend asking for assistance for something he doesn’t have that he needs for someone else. When we are asking for others, we are less likely to have selfish motives. Our asking comes from the love, care, or concern we have for them.
The following context is about a father giving good gifts to his children. One commentary says that these gifts are to the child’s advantage. God is our Father. It is appropriate to ask Him for things. He wants us to ask for things. He wants us to depend on Him always.
These contexts suggest that the verse is talking about asking for something that is okay for us to have. The context also implies insistence and persistence—keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. Why? Why insistence? In our culture, insistence can often be seen as rudeness. Why do we need to insist? Perhaps this indicates that it is really something we need and can’t do without. Or perhaps we need to prove our desire by continued petitioning? Our level of sincerity indicates that whatever we are asking for is not a whim.
God’s power is so great, He is able to instantly answer all of our prayers regardless of level of need, desire, or petitioning. If He answered everything we asked for immediately, we could end up with things we really don’t want after all.
Remember the story of Lazarus? When Jesus went to the tomb to raise Lazarus from the dead, He said, “Lazarus, come out.” Have you ever thought about why Jesus specifically called him by name? While there are probably a variety of reasons, one idea is that if Jesus wouldn’t have called him by name, all the dead would have come out of the tomb because God’s Word is so powerful.
I thought about this in connection with our asking, seeking, and knocking. Our words, which we use to petition God, are not as well chosen as God’s. When He says something, it happens. Perhaps our continued petitioning gives us the opportunity to fine tune our words so it is clear to us and to God exactly what we are asking for.
SEEK How is seeking different than asking? To ask means to question, inquire, require, entreat, or beg. Some of those words connote self-seeking, asking for things because what is in it for me. The more I look at this verse, the more it appears to me a process, rather than a list of steps. It is easy to look at this verse and think, “Okay, Step 1, Ask; Step 2, Seek; Step 3, Knock. Got it. Done.”
But it isn’t steps; it’s process. The verb tense is progressive—“keep on asking, seeking, knocking.” That alone implies a continued process. Continued study implies to me that as I continue to ask, I will be led to seek.
What is seeking? The dictionary defines it as “to search for God, to find the truth of God, to obtain fellowship, to go to safety.” Wow. Suddenly we have gone from a process of asking, which appears self-centered, to seeking, which is looking now for God instead of looking for the thing we initially wanted.
And when we seek God, we will find Him. That is a promise in His Word. When we find God, His truth, His fellowship, His safety, we are in tune with Him. His desires become our desires. Now we have the mind of Christ to evaluate our petitions and rest in God’s timing. Now it seems, it is time to knock.
KNOCK As I stated earlier, this process has always seemed out of order to me. Don’t we usually knock on a door before we ask for or seek anything? Why does God’s process leave knocking until last? Let’s think about when we knock. We knock when we
- Enter a place that is not public, but God welcomes all.
- Enter a place that does not belong to us, but God has invited us.
- Enter a place where we may be interrupting something, but God is always available.
- Enter a place new to us, but through salvation we already know God.
- Enter a place of [someone else’s] privacy, but when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn. We have access to the Holy of Holies.
The things we typically associate with knocking don’t seem to apply to knocking to get to God. We already have access through Jesus. So where are we knocking? If we have already found God through seeking, what is the purpose of the knocking? Why is it the last part of the process? And why do we keep on knocking? Why is one or two gentle knocks not enough?
Perhaps the “where” is the key. If we are not knocking to get admittance to God, we are knocking someplace else. Perhaps these are metaphoric knocks. Once we get the mind of Christ, we may be knocking on doors of opportunity or knocking down doors that are barriers. We continue knocking on our door of opportunity until it opens to us. Or, we continue knocking on different doors until one (the right one) opens.
Knocking is the only part of the process that requires a physical response from us. Asking is a function of the mouth. Seeking is a function of the heart. But knocking is a function of the hands. It requires not only a physical response but a step of faith. Now, perhaps, we understand why knocking is the last part of the process. Until we have asked of God and sought His truth, we shouldn’t be acting or stepping out. But once we have the mind, heart, and plan of God, we should act by stepping out in faith and knocking.
Don’t forget that this is a process. We may be at a different part of the process for different areas of our lives. God has provided the process as a means of growth. We ask for things we need and desire, we seek God’s truth in regard to those things, and then we knock on the opportunities that await us. And when we take advantage of the opportunities, we will surely have found what we were asking for.
Until next time,