Chapter Excerpt From Rock-Solid Living In A Quicksand World
Rock-Solid A-S-K ing Relating to God
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.Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
If you are still with us, then you have come to the other side of the narrow gate. You are well on your way, as you travel along these stepping-stones, to maintaining a solid foundation. You are also about to get a glimpse of just how rational and practical our God is. In the preceding verses, Jesus talks about speaking with God without calling it prayer. He gives no explanation as to why He does not call this prayer. He simply chooses not to use the word. Later, He specifically mentions the word “prayer;” however, here it seems that this passage has more to do with levels of relating to God:
Levels of relating to God.
When we are trying to get God’s attention, it seems to me that there are levels for doing so. The English translation (“ask”) actually gives us three letters that we can use to represent three words. Quite simply, we are to A-S-K. A word that corresponds with the a in “ask” is simply the word itself: ask. This seems to be rather easy. Doesn’t it? It simply means to request information. There doesn’t seem to be any intense digging for the answer. There is no intensity whatsoever in this interaction with the Almighty. Ask a simple question, and you will get a simple answer. Nothing more is required. The child of God who is speaking to the Heavenly Father does not seem to be groveling here. The child is not begging. The child asks politely and expects the loving Father will provide for the need.
The S in “ask” stands for “seek” (Matthew 7:7). The next level of this interpersonal relationship seems to involve a little bit more. One of the best stories I know to help us understand this aspect is found in Luke’s Gospel:
THE SEEKING WIDOW
Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually attack me.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
If ever there were a hopeless situation, this would be it. And the first thing we recognize in this story is that it is about not giving up when seeking an answer. This woman was between a rock and a hard place. She was a widow, and widows had zero authority in those days. She was a woman, and women had no authority or identity apart from having a husband. Needless to say, she was powerless to do anything about the injustice meted out to her. She was also facing an atheistic, egotistical judge who didn’t respect anyone. He was a legend in his own mind. Asking a man like him just once would never work. So the widow hatched a plan. She decided to keep going back again and again until the judge provided her the help that she was seeking. She was a seeker in the purest form of the word.
THE NARCISSISTIC JUDGE
Now we have already made it clear that this man was really in love with himself. He did not fear God, and other people were simply “less than,” as far as he was concerned. I can only imagine how he felt the first time that widow came in to see him. I can almost imagine a smirk on his face accompanied by an inward selfish determination to embarrass that woman. I can almost hear him thinking, “How dare this widow come into my courtroom expecting me to stand with her against a man!”
Yet she seemed to have overcome any timidity that would naturally accompany her powerless state. She went before the judge, and she began by asking. He rejected her request; therefore, she went back another time to seek relief from injustice. She asked and she asked and she asked. She did not enter the court just once as a seeker, and she did not shout or yell or scream or pout. She simply went in and asked the judge exponentially. In fact, she sought the judge so much that, eventually, he gave her what she wanted before she wore him out.
Clearly the judge expected a different outcome at first, but the widow had already made up her mind that she would receive the answer that she desired. Just as a person would ask and receive, she sought so that she could seek and find. After seeking, like a squeaky wheel that needed greasing, the judge could stand it no more: And that for which she was waiting, actually became a reality. Her faith became sight. The powerful, narcissistic judge gave up a bit of power to help her get justice.
In the New International Version of the Bible, it says that the judge gave the widow justice because she kept “bothering” him. In other words, he provided her with justice because she was going to keep on seeking to the point of being the squeaky wheel that became obnoxious. So the judge “greased the squeaky wheel” so that he could get what he wanted as well—relief from the widow.
Jesus’s Commentary On The Seeking Widow And The Narcissistic Judge
Jesus is telling us here He wants us to really pay attention to what the judge said. Now if we are seekers of rock-solid living, let us “Listen up!” Let us be very careful to ruminate about what Jesus is saying. For He wants to make it clear that, in relating to God, it is God’s will to give us answers when we not only ask, but when we don’t get a response from God immediately. We are not necessarily to assume that God is rejecting our requests just because we do not get instant spiritual gratification. So we need not give up, but we need to keep respectfully and humbly going back until we get the desired response. This is what the Bible calls “effectual, fervent prayer.” (See James 5:16.) This is prayer that goes beyond a simple one-time request and brings us to the place of Divine solution.
Knock On The Door
Then He said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight, and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity, he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.’”
We are now at the K in “ask”—knock. Now I don’t know about you, but it is one thing to go to someone and simply ask for something. It also seems to me that when you go to a public place, like a court, to settle an issue then you are doing what is fairly accepted. However, when you go to the next level of asking—in the middle of the night at a private home—well…let’s just say you are getting a little more serious. Keep in mind that everyone is in bed asleep, and all the doors are locked. The last thing this family wants is have someone wake them up. I don’t know of too many people who would like to be awakened from a sound sleep to provide food for someone that they may not even know.
Every so often, I have simply stopped for a moment to have a conversation with God about or for someone I care about. Some of those times, I have prayed for people in public settings. Then there are those times when I’m asleep at night, and someone gets into my heart and my mind. Continually thinking about that person wakes me up. Yes, it is the middle of the night, and it occurs to me that the person I am thinking about needs another someone to “knock, knock, knock” on heaven’s door. So I obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and I pester God a bit…well…more than a little bit. I may or may not have any idea about what is going on with the person. All I know is that heaven needs to hear from me on his or her behalf.
Now here’s what may surprise you. When I see that person later, I get to ask them a question that has become very important to me. Can you guess what the question is? Quite simply I ask, “Hey, what was going on with you last night?” (Or whatever night of the week it was.) Most of the time, I mention the time of night that I was awakened. The response I receive from them many times is something like the following: “Wow! That was the exact day and time when I was having problems. How did you know I needed help?”
Here’s my point: At one level, we communicate with God on behalf of others or privately for ourselves by having a simple daytime interaction with God. We ask. There may be other times when we repeatedly need to speak publicly with God on behalf others: we seek. However, life is not that convenient all the time. Sometimes our friends and loved ones need us to wake up in the middle of the night for them. They really need us to become very serious on their behalf. They need us to speak to God, and there are no “banker’s hours.” Or we might need to pray for ourselves. Either way, this is a two-way conversation with heaven that just might begin with God knocking on our heart’s door—even in the middle of the night. So we knock.
The Commonalities Of Rock-Solid Asking
Asking, seeking, and knocking—these three levels of interacting with God really have one thing in common. Each fully anticipates getting an answer from God. And it is here where many people (myself included) get into the quicksand. We ask or seek or knock, but we don’t wait expectantly for an answer. It’s almost as if there is no expectation to hear anything back from heaven. So the conversation is a one-way flow of words.
For example, suppose you or I have some problems, and we call a friend up on the phone. We describe the facts of the situation to them. We tell them what we believe. We talk about our opinion. We may make assumptions. We may delineate our expectations. We share our interpretations of those things about which we are concerned. Indeed, we will give our complete evaluation of our circumstances. Emotions may get involved, and we may cry, or we may laugh. We may get angry, or talking it through may even calm us down a bit. Finally, we may even talk about a plan that we have worked out.
However, after we had done all of this talking, our friend just might think that it’s appropriate to say something back to us. But to our friend’s surprise—before he or she can speak—we say, “Bye! Thanks for listening! I’ve got to go now!” Then the phone goes dead, and our friend is left holding the receiver on the other end. I am wondering if that friend will pick up the phone and call us back to help us resolve whatever troubles us. I am wondering how that friend feels on the other end of the phone that is now dead. Surprised? Shocked? Full of joy? I don’t know. One thing is certain: we cannot hear our friend if we are not available to listen!
This is what I do know: I do know that some people need God’s help, and communicating with God is the last resort. For many, it is a 911 last-ditch effort. They can talk to God, but they don’t expect God to get back to them with an answer. I call this quicksand spirituality.
Here is what I’m hoping for: I am hoping that we will seriously consider walking on the stepping-stones of asking, seeking, and knocking as a part of our journey of life. I am hoping that we will actively engage in all three of these prayer practices with the full belief that God will hear us. I am also hoping that we look for specific answers, as did the widow and the friend at night. I am hoping we will “have ears to hear” as well as the ability to speak. If we do so, we’re stepping on the stones on the path of rock-solid living in a quicksand world.
God Bless You,
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