Have you heard the cliché that a person is ‘all talk and no action’? They talk about big ideas and make proclamations of how they believe things are supposed to be, but they do not carry through with steps that back their speech.
If you pray to be a better husband, but do not demonstrate tangible loving actions to your wife, you are all talk and no action. It is much better when we make humble proclamations and follow through with steps of action.
Jesus taught us to take action by coming to God in prayer. Prayer is a first step in problem solving. Yes, God knows everything and we’re not really informing Him; but we need to take action by initiating communication with the Lord.
Look at the three action words—ask, seek, knock. Prayer is not passive nor is its outcome fatalistic. We ask, seek and knock because we believe that God can respond. God can influence, alter and reply to us when we approach Him. Let’s look more closely at these modes of prayer.
What does Jesus mean by ‘ask and it will be given to you’? First of all, what is ‘it’? The ‘it’ we ask for is specific. ‘It’ is something that God can give us. Whatever ‘it’ is, Jesus is convinced that ‘it’ will be given to us. And most importantly, we can develop an attitude that believes God wants to provide answers and supply us with all that is required to live in His Kingdom. The ‘it’ we ask for is something that comes from God’s Kingdom.
Jesus is telling us that God is approachable for the things we need. How specific can you be in asking God? Maybe the question can be turned—how specific of an answer are you looking for? God will respond to specifics, but we need to ask in a single-minded way. Do not ask for anything that you are not willing to accept. Understand that God wants to equip you to live in His Kingdom.
Seek and you will find. When do we seek? We search when we are looking for something that has value to us.
In the Kingdom of God, there are many valuable resources that we need. This is more than simply asking; the seeker explores and searches for that which is desired. Starting in prayer, we initiate a search for the solution.
If you are sick, pray first and then initiate a search for all of the action steps that can make you well. If you need money, start by praying for provision and then search for ways that you can earn, sell or ask for help. The first step in seeking is asking God to show you where to search. God is a Father who not only gives provision but also, teaches sons and daughters how to be resourceful. In prayer, God becomes our coach and consultant.
There may be times when God leads you to ask and then wait quietly. But the principle of ‘seeking’ takes us to a new level of looking and awareness.
Knock and the door will be opened. I notice that we are not asked to knock on walls. You do not need to bang your head on a wall. Jesus invites us to find a door. It may be a closed door, but your action of knocking will lead to opening if this is where you are supposed to go.
You do not knock on a door if you own the house and have the ‘right of passage’. No, you knock on doors when you want entry to someone else’s environment. Let us suppose that there is someone you need to lovingly confront or make amends to. You can pray that it happens, but you likely need to go knock on their door after you pray about it.
If you approach a person or opportunity and the door is closed, don’t just walk away. Some answers to prayer require us to knock on closed doors as part of our search for the answer. If the door opens, then you have the thing you came seeking. If the door doesn’t open, you have been active in prayer and you can move on. Don’t kick down the doors that don’t open, just knock.
Prayer is more than a few words; it is active! It is an appeal and request to God that says, “I’m willing to participate in any way I can to see this prayer answered.”