I used to hate memorization exercises, not because I couldn’t memorize something but because usually the final mission almost always involved reciting what one had memorized in front of a group. I don’t mind so much now the task of public speaking, but as a child it scared the daylights out of me, even though more often than not I’d work myself up into a frenzy in the days and hours leading up to the event but then be perfectly fine in actually doing what needed to be done.
One such memorization exercise has been tossing about in my noggin for about a week now, and I’m not sure why. I don’t remember the particulars, but I do recall attending some sort of Vacation Bible School (I’m almost sure the one in question was not at my home church, but at my maternal grandmother’s – she was a “soldier” in The Salvation Army) and being asked to learn Matthew 7:7, which says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”. This was probably 30 years ago, and I still remember it. For current purposes we are going to also throw into the mix verse 8, which goes on to say “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
A few things need to be said about this passage. First of all, it may seem clear, but for clarification purposes let’s point out that we’re obviously talking about prayer. Ask, seek, knock. The Lord doesn’t play offense. He gave that up after Adam and Eve ate a certain fruit He’d told them was off limits. This brought about free will, which means we make our own decisions, both good and bad. But He’s there, and He’s not going anywhere. It’s up to us to seek Him out, to knock on His door, to ask Him for help. Why do we find this so difficult?? Is it pride? Is it a culture that values self reliance, the old “I can do it on my own” attitude? Does seeking out assistance from God make us feel weak? Has The Lord made it seem too simple for our suspicious, cynical, “what’s the catch?” mentality to grasp? It’s probably all these and a lot more.
Secondly, the question arises…..what is “it”?? “It will be given…you will find (it)…it will be opened to you…”. I’m quite certain “it” doesn’t encompass anything and everything we ask God for or ask Him to do. I’m sure many have asked Him for lots of stuff…a cool car, a great job, a new house, to win the lottery, for that cute gal or guy to notice how awesome we are. But intellectually we know it’s not that easy. Even on a television game show one has to do something to earn a prize, it’s just not handed out freely. So what is “it”?? What does God promise us if we ask, seek, and knock? I think “it” boils down to two things: peace and salvation, i.e. eternal life.
Which leads to the third point. Look at this passage again. Ask, seek, knock. This is not a lazy, effortless, sedentary, passive project. However, neither is it that complicated. God wants to be more than just our ICE contact…..He wants to be on our speed dial. He wants us to call on Him often…every day, every hour, every minute. He wants to share everything with us in a reciprocal way. In other words, He’s given us, well, the entire world…so He’d like to be the main attraction in our life. I personally don’t think it’s too much to ask, even though I claim to be no better at actually letting Him be those things than anyone else. That’s a topic for another time though.