“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.” Matthew 7:7-8
This is how to find wisdom according to Jesus, and to ask for the things we need.
In this series we’ve been looking at what it means to ask, seek and knock. Asking and seeking wisdom are pretty easy to understand (click to read Ask, Seek, & Seek part 2), but knock isn’t quite a straight forward.
Knocking requires Action
Knocking requires us to act upon what we’ve asked for and what we’ve sought out. What good is it to ask for wisdom, seek it out, and then not act upon what we’ve learned? But all too often this is what we do.
We want to know what to do. We ask and we seek – but then too often we are afraid to move forward with action.
Gaining wisdom isn’t about knowing the right answers – it is about acting them out and applying them correctly. <<<— Click to Tweet
This is often where we struggle in finding wisdom. We ask God, we seek it out in His word and in the world, but it doesn’t just come to us easily. We have to work at asking and seeking, and we often have to wait for an answer. Then we have to act upon the answer we are given – and that’s usually a whole different thing to struggle with!
Recently I shared my Journey to Paleo and how I asked God to “show me something” in our struggle to conceive. He answered mightily in showing me that my diet had to change. Asking and seeking this wisdom wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t an extreme hardship either, as I wanted some answers. Living it out, on the other hand, is extremely hard. Foods that are off my menu are everywhere – and often I’m in situations where there is little to nothing I can eat. Friends and even family have criticized my decision, I’ve been mocked at times, isolated at others, and at times I’ve just downright wanted to eat what I want and not worry about the consequences.
I haven’t always liked the wisdom that God has given me when I’ve asked Him for something. But I must act upon it and keep knocking. Otherwise, I’m acting foolishly.
I must keep acting upon the wisdom that I asked God to give me whether it’s easy or not. My purpose in asking for wisdom in that instance was mainly because I wanted to have a child – and after a long time knocking – 4.5 years from asking God to “show me something”, He answered the door with the birth of Naomi.
Jesus’ words about Ask, Seek, and Knock are recorded in 2 of the Gospels, Matthew 7 and in Luke 11, both in teachings on prayer and asking God for our needs. Luke recorded a Parable that Jesus told right before He said the above words – a short, but interesting Parable – here’s the Message version of Luke 11:5-8
Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand. The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything. But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.”
This has always been some what of a troubling Parable for me. The neighbor seems to be being quite rude in continually knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night. But is he really being rude or he is being persistent because his need is real and he needs help?
The man asked and sought out the bread he needed for his guest – his neighbor answered him through the door, so he knew that what he needed was there to be had – he just needed to keep acting upon this knowledge in order to get what he had asked for. His neighbor is obviously the only one who can help him or he would have moved on to another neighbor. Instead he keeps on knocking until the door is opened and he gets what he needs.
The NIV and NLT have a slightly different wording at the end of this parable. They say: “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.” Both have notes on them saying that the “shameless audacity” part could also mean that the man gets up to answer the door in order to preserve his good name (see the reference).
What was Jesus teaching us here by telling us to knock persistently?
I think He’s telling us that we must keep asking and seeking wisdom. We must not think it is something that is going to be given to us easily without effort and diligence on our part. We must know our need for it like this neighbor did, and be insistent that we need it and want it enough to keep knocking even in the middle of the night.
Jesus is also making a statement here that God is going to answer our knocking – not because He’s our friend (though He is), but because of who He is. At first this might seem a bit odd – at least to me it did. But the more I pondered this the more I realized that I’d rather know that God is going to answer my prayers based on His goodness, faithfulness, wisdom and knowledge than based on me in any way. This way when He answers I know it is in my best interest and not just because I tried to beat the door down or because He felt sorry for me.
This Parable also reminds us to never give up.
He wants us to keep asking, seeking, and knocking and looking to Him in all things. He tells us that if we need wisdom to ask Him, and He’ll give it to us generously (James 1:5).
So what wisdom have you asked God for and sought out? What are you doing with what He’s given you? Are you continuing to knock at the door waiting for Him to answer?
If not, can I encourage you to start?
This is how Jesus told us to ask for what we need. He said to ask, seek, and knock – and we must follow all three, knowing that God will answer in His timing and in His will.
Prayers for you as you seek Wisdom,
Thanks Bill Selak for the photo!