Ask, Seek, Knock
There are many who teach go to God to get what you want. They may teach go to God so you can get what makes you happy. If you desire a new car, house, relationship, or money then go to God and believe that you will receive it.
Does, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” refer to going to God to get all your physical wants taken care of? Is God our butler? What is Jesus teaching His disciples here and how can we apply it today?
Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray in the conversation that surrounds Luke 11:9. His disciples asked to teach them to pray in Luke 11:1. Jesus begins His teaching in Luke 11:2 by saying, “Father, hallowed be your name.” John MacArthur points out that Jewish teachers used to compose prayers for their disciples so it wouldn’t be unusual for Jesus to compose a prayer for them.
Isaiah says in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 is and Old Testament example of the word Father used to describe God. There are others. Referring to God as Father was not as unusual to the disciples as some may think.
Jewish culture cultivates a strong reverence for the name of God. According to www.jewfaq.org/name.htm, “A Name should not be written, so it will not be discarded disrespectfully.” Many Jews do not say or write God’s name out of fear of disrespecting it. Calling someone their Father also spoke of heritage which the Jews did not take lightly. John 8:39 quotes the Pharisee’s saying that Abraham was their father. This was true in lineage but not in practice as they did not imitate the faith of Abraham as Jesus pointed out.
The name Father serves as bookends in Jesus’s teaching on how to pray. Luke 11:9 is located in the section that Jesus uses to teach them to seek God in prayer. Notice in Luke 11:3 Jesus tells them to rely on God’s provision daily. He also teaches them to ask for forgiveness in Luke 11:4 and help so they will not sin against Him. Jesus is not teaching them to pray this once but as a way of life.
Jesus is not teaching them that they will get what they want but what they need. Take Paul for example in Philippians. He says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul is referring to contentment in whatever position that God puts him in. He can go hungry and live in prosperity but maintain the same joy. He was not allowing his circumstances and things to dictate his happiness. He was relying on the Lord to dictate his happiness. In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Using scripture to interpret scripture it sounds like Paul is using the same principle that Jesus is teaching in Luke 11:2-13. Paul is not speaking of physical food but spiritual food. Rejoicing in Jesus always gave Paul the strength to live joyfully in all circumstances. This principle is also visible in the lesson that Jesus gives His disciples.
When Jesus says in Luke 11:2, “Father, hallowed be your name,” He is referring to Gods nature. Moses asks God how to answer the Israelites in Exodus 3:10 when they ask, “What is His name?” Based on the answer they are asking, “What is He like?” God’s answer is in Exodus 3:16-17, “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. “So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” The answer tells us God enjoys saving people.
To pray to God as Father we must be saved by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of this prayer. Turning to God from sin and putting our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior gives us the right to call God Father. Jesus is the bread of life as He is the one who gives us eternal life- John 6:35. We will never grow hungry. In Jesus we have forgiveness of sin. Jesus teaches how not to sin against our Father but if we do sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous – 1 John 2:1. God is happy to be called our Father as He is the one who with great love provided us with Jesus Christ.
The interesting part is that the Holy Spirit was not given yet as Jesus had not secured salvation through His death and resurrection when He gave these instructions. His disciples may not have put it into practice immediately. But yet, we do see evidence of how they prayed in what they wrote. Just read 1 Peter 1 and most of the greetings of Paul’s letters. What did they want their readers to enjoy the most? They wanted them to enjoy their salvation in Christ produced by God the Father! How many times do you see the greeting of grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? It just doesn’t happen. We must work to understand the implications of our salvation and the best way to do so is in prayer with our Father according to how Jesus teaches us to pray and knowing Jesus gives us access to call God Father.
It is the nature of God to save the destitute as we once were. It is His joy that we are His children in Christ – 1 Peter 1:3. How does it make you feel when you know that God happily gives you life in Jesus. How does it make you feel that your Father delights in giving you Jesus so you speak to Him directly? How does it make you feel that through Jesus our Father delights in your presence at His throne of grace? He did so because it is His delight to call Himself your Father? What does this knowledge do to your spirit? Do you experience love, joy and peace with God? Then you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit! It can only be found when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Could the greatest good of the gospel be your belief that God happily considers Himself your Father through Jesus? If this is not your experience then pray to your Father for understanding! Ask, seek, knock, and it will be given to you!