In one of my favorite movies, Fiddler on the Roof, the main character is a earthy Jewish man, Tevye, … with 5 daughters, (in a world that values sons), a poor milkman with lots of struggles and questions for God. Throughout the movie he has an ongoing conversation with God… about everything, from his lame horse, the difficulties of being poor, husbands for his daughters, how to get along with his wife, and of course the questions of living a life devoted to God.
The heaven’s don’t part… there is no soaring music… just a man, his mule and milk cart walking down a dirt road glancing up at the sky… talking to God. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8q9EIi863c (watch video clip from the movie)
Asking, seeking, knocking, praying for guidance, answers, relief, wisdom… about all the stuff of life… like God is his friend… approachable, interested and able to answer his prayers. it is a lifestyle of talking, sharing, with your BEST FRIEND!
Have you ever done this? Just carried on a dialogue with God throughout your day? Made prayer a lifestyle rather than a time set apart?
Matthew 7:7-8 are familiar verses. Ask, Seek, Knock. As I studied these verses, I was struck by the literal translation or amplified version:
- ask and keep on asking
- seek and keep on seeking
- knock and keep on knocking…
…as if God is saying, “don’t give up because you may not get the answer you wanted or one at all the first , second or even third time.
Keep seeking ME- my face, my presence, wisdom and guidance for your life. Come to me… over and over and over again…”
The Bible uses repetition to emphasize a point. Stacking these words emphasizes the action that we should take in our approach to God- ongoing, persistent, increased intensity, in our prayer and conversation with Him.
I picture a child who continues to hound a mother for something they want or are convinced they need. (can I have a cookie, can I have more screen time, when are we going to the store…?)
They come to us, unashamed of their need or desire and hammer us with their questions,… asking, seeking and knocking… with a confidence that we as their loving parents will responds.
God is an infinitely more loving and devoted parent than we are on our best day! Do we approach Him with confidence in His goodness and love, even when His answer is No? or delayed?
In these verses Jesus paints a picture that this is exactly what we should be doing.
- Ask and keep on asking
- seek and keep on seeking
- knock and keep on knocking…
with Bold confidence, expectancy and perseverance!
Jesus’ words are an invitation to bring all of our thoughts, desires, needs to God…and like Tevye have an ongoing conversation with our loving Father.
The very act of doing so affirms our belief in the goodness of God and our desperate need for Him to intervene in our lives, to guide, direct, comfort, restore, provide for us, His precious children.
The hard part is when God seems to be silent, unhearing, or unyielding in granting us what we assume is necessary to our happiness or survival.
Read Matt 7:9-11
Jesus doesn’t say: for everyone who asks will receive exactly what they are asking for, and the seeker will find exactly what they are looking for, or the one who knocks will get exactly what they knocked for. And while it might make us angry or disappointed in the moment… we can be grateful that God does not give us exactly what we want… but instead what He knows we need.
God does answer our prayers…sometimes the answer is “no.”
As a parent have you ever denied a child’s request, urgent need or desire, because you knew what was best for them? In our wisdom experience we say no in love.
Honestly, I am grateful that God doesn’t give me what I ask, seek or bang down the door trying to get… because sometimes I am asking, seeking and unceasingly knocking for something that I didn’t realize was not the best for me. God loves us enough to NOT give us things we ask when they are not His best for us.
This isn’t easy to accept and sometimes, quite honestly, I can behave much like the two year old, throwing a tantrum in my disappointment, sorrow and pain. Other times, I am angry and aloof from God, questioning His wisdom and goodness, and others times, I am a mature woman of faith, and while I express my feelings to God, it is from a posture of submission… surrender to Him and committed to believing that He is Good.
Asking suggests dependence; seeking suggests yearning; knocking suggests persistence. Jesus wanted to encourage faith.
Are you willing to Ask and keep on Asking, Seek and keep on Seeking, Knock and keep on Knocking –literally craving, requiring and demanding -interaction conversation and relationship with God?
How does this literal/amplified translation of ask, seek, knock and keep on asking, seeking and knocking, change your understanding of this scripture?
How will it change the way you pray?
Can you envision an ongoing conversation/dialogue with God throughout your day? How does doing so impact you?
How do you handle the times when God says “no” to what you may be convinced you need?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8q9EIi863c (watch video clip from the movie)
Ask -(aiteo) – request with urgency, even to the point of demanding, beg, crave, desire
The one in need asks/demands an answer from the one who can provide it. We ask because we believe that God is there listening, desiring to hear our prayers, and we expect Him to answer.
Ask (aiteo) in this verse is in the is present imperative tense in Greek– this translated literally means “ASK and KEEP ON Asking!”.
Seek – (zeteo) –inquire, require, demand, search, try to obtain, striving,
We seek something with intensity and priority. Have your ever lost something- (like your keys 2 minutes before you need to walk out the door – already 5 minutes late)and went seeking to find it? That level of need and urgency is indicated in zeteo
Seek and keep on Seeking – literal translation, (zeteo) is in the same present imperative tense as Ask.
Knock– (krouo) – to rap upon, beat the door with a stick, to gain admittance
Again kruro is in the present imperative tense, just like ask and seek, which implies an even greater and more repetitive intensity than either asking or seeking.
There is a progressive degree of intensity from asking then to seeking and finally to overtly knocking! Each of these verbs is in the present imperative, which is a command to do each of these activities continually.
Jesus is calling for persistence in prayer. Prayer is as necessary to us as oxygen to our life.
Prayer is our lifeline. It expresses our continual dependence on God. Make this type of prayer, of conversation with God- the pattern of your life, a continual act of devotion, faith and evidence of our ongoing and intimate relationship with God
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Esther 9:12-16, 23-25; Psalm 138:1-3, 7-8; Mathew 7:7-12
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 9: Mark 6-11