Luke 11:9,10 “And so I tell you, keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 10. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Do you really believe that? I mean, really believe it? Have you asked and not received, sought and not found, knocked and no door has opened? Have you not got an answer at all or at least not got the answer you were wanting? Are you still asking, seeking, and knocking, or have you given up? If you are one of those people who’s given up, have you become cynical and angry, and wonder what the point is in even trying?
I know I’ve been there. Praying, asking for my family’s salvation, especially my mother before she died, but it didn’t happen. Or at least, I didn’t see any manifestation that it happened (I just have to believe that Mum asked Jesus to forgive her and save her in her last moments here on earth, even though I didn’t hear her say it). At the time, my disappointment made me angry at God, and I felt hopeless. I wondered what use it was to pray for something if it wasn’t going to happen, especially when it was obviously in the will of God: “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter3:9) Another example from my life is praying for my daughters to stay pure until marriage and find a Godly husband. That didn’t happen either!
But what I didn’t take into account in either of those prayers, even though both were the will of God according to His Word, was the factor of human will. People can still choose to go against the will of God, especially when they don’t know or aren’t interested in knowing or following His will.
What I also wonder is, did I really believe those prayers would be answered? Did I believe it was possible for God to save my family or keep my girls pure? Since my faith wavered, it’s not surprising my prayers went unanswered, especially when you consider verses like James 1:6-8 that say: “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
I’ve also got to ask myself, was I really persistent enough in my prayers? Did I continue to ask, seek, and knock even though I wasn’t getting an answer or didn’t see anything happening in the natural? Truthfully, the answer would probably be “No”. I would ask for a while and then I would quit. Something would spark in my mind again, and I would ask another time or two, but then get busy, distracted, forgetful, and go through another bout of not asking (and sometimes not even praying).
Like the parable of the friend who knocks on his neighbor’s door at midnight, asking for a loaf of bread to feed a friend who has just stopped by (see Luke 11:5-8), I was not persistent enough to get what I was asking for. I gave up too soon. My request was too sporadic. I might have knocked a few times at midnight, but I stopped, wondering what else I could do. I might have gone back and knocked again around 3am, but then gave up again when there was no immediate response.
I think sometimes, too, that we ask and then don’t wait for the answer, or take the time to listen. We allow the busyness and distractions of life to block our ability to hear His answer. And then we wonder why our prayers seem to go unanswered!
Imagine with me if you would… you call and leave a message with your father, “I need to know pretty quick if you’re going to get us those front row tickets for Saturday like you promised.” But then, some friends come over, you put on some music, fix some food, and all mix and mingle in the next room. Your father calls back but you don’t hear your phone ringing, so you assume he didn’t get the message. By then, you and your friends have decided to get the tickets somewhere else. Yeah, the seats are not as good as the ones you would’ve got through your dad, and yeah, they were more expensive, but at least you’re getting to go to the concert/game, etc. like you wanted.
Or, let me give you a parable relating to work… imagine you need some part or supply and so you call the manufacturer. You have to leave a voicemail, so you’re expecting a call back pretty soon. After all, this need is very important. However, two minutes later, someone forwards a call to you from a client who has a complaint that takes a long time to resolve, then you get pulled away from your desk by a coworker with a question, followed by someone from another department stopping by because they need your help with a pressing issue, and by this time you realize you’re about to run late for a meeting if you don’t get going out the door now.
What you don’t realize is that the manufacturer has tried to call back a couple of times while all this is going on. The first time the phone was busy and the second time, although the phone was not busy, it just rang and rang and rang. Maybe a passing coworker answered it, but maybe the message didn’t get passed on like it should have or the message passed on to you by this coworker didn’t seem to make any sense or didn’t even really seem to pertain to the original query.
By the end of the day, you’re tired, stressed, and frustrated because it’s been busy and you didn’t get any further ahead with the original order you put in first thing that morning. So, although it’s on your mind when you get back to work the next day, by this time you realize you’re going to have to resolve the problem some other way yourself to get through this rough spot, until you get the required supply. You call around and finally locate something that will fill the need in the meantime. Maybe a sister company or similar business has one of those parts they can loan you and so you just get that instead, all the time getting more annoyed with the original supplier for not being available and providing what you need. By this time, you’re seriously considering just changing manufacturers! After all, this other way seemed cheaper and easier to find anyway and it seems to be working just fine!
Can you relate to either of those scenarios? Surely I’m not the only one…