Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

"Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you." Matt 7:7                                  

These encouraging words of our Lord not only help us to persevere in prayer, they help to make our minds like Christ's. True, we know that we are being conformed to Christ and His mind is daily being formed in us. But we often forget that we are beings who are made for Eternity, and we will not be able to receive a full reward if we enter into our Real Country with personalities and character traits more suited to this land we presently sojourn in. 

In addition to receiving, finding, and having a door opened, we also are learning to worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus encourages us to Ask, Seek, and Knock. If we follow this command, we will achieve the fruits of love, faith, and hope. As St Paul tells us these are the three things that endure.

Asking and Receiving

When we ask, we are trusting that God hears us. We are consciously believing that Jesus loves us and has heard our prayers. But asking is not enough. After we ask, we must train our minds to look expectantly for the answered prayer. The saints in Heaven were people who learned how to see the invisible. They saw heaven before they got there. They saw the visible result of prayer when there was only God's Scriptural word --the invisible seed hidden in their heart. Like them, we must learn to have a confident expectation that the good seed will flower and produce fruit. We must learn to believe in the seed growing secretly. The Bible tells us that the wind blows where it wills. (John 3:8) The Scripture tells us that God is the Husbandman who gives seed to the sower, who sends rain and sunshine, who prunes and fertilizes the plant, and who gives the increase. But we also have our part. We are to water the word, watching in prayer with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) When we plant earthly seeds in the springtime, we believe that there is power in the seed to grow. Although we don't see the seed because the dirt covers it, we know the seed exists. Earthly farmers use earthly methods to reap their harvests. We are spiritual seed-planters. When we ask God for something, we are using God's word to plant invisible seed. God's word is active and powerful (Heb 4:12) and it has life in itself just as earthly seeds have life in themselves. God's word accomplishes what God sends it out to do. BUT this spiritual seed must be watered spiritually. Our prayers must be planted, watered, weeded, and reaped spiritually. How do we do this? We water the seed by praising God and believing that the prayer has been granted, even when we do not see any signs of the result of our prayer. That's how we "receive." The Word of God is an imperishable seed. It will not die. The calling and grace of God are without repentance. God doesn't take back what He gives. But we must be careful not to neglect the gifts that God has given us. If the word of God will profit us, we must mix it with our faith. We need to water the seed by faith. St Paul tells us that we water the word by giving thanks for what God has done. Jesus said, "When you pray, believe that you have received and you will have." St Paul says, "In due time, we will reap if we faint not." When we praise God in faith for something we have not yet seen with our human eyes, we are "believing that we have received." We are not fainting; instead we are participating in the reaping of the precious promises of God. We don't know when or how, but in "due time" -- the harvest time-- the seed will grow. We walk by faith and enter God's court with praise, trusting that He has already answered our prayer. This means that we don't begin our prayers with doubt, but with a faith that God has already answered our prayers. Oftentimes we begin to believe that God has heard our prayer when we start seeing an answer to our prayers. The little sprouts and blade begin to rise and then we start praising God. That's well and good, but we are to walk by faith in God's word, not by what we see. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Therefore, we must live expecting that something good is happening even now. In all things and in all situations, we must rejoice -- regardless of what our human eyes see-- because the eyes and heart of faith know that God is in charge and that He cares for us.

But why do we water the seed. What is the real reason? How can we continue watering seed when we have not seen the blade, the stalk, the full flower? Because we know the personality and character of God. We love Him because He first loved us. As we give thanks and walk in love and wonder at His goodness, we train our souls to trust in God's love, power and providence.

Seeking and Finding
A Christian who seeks knows there is an answer to her problems. Christians really should not go around saying that they see no way out of their problem. First of all, there is a way out. God always makes a way out. Second of all, we should not go about speaking negatively about our lives in a way that makes God a liar. How can a child of God who is blessed with God's wisdom within dare say that there is no answer to her problems? Those who seek believe that every problem has a solution and every request for wisdom will be answered by a God who upbraideth not. We may not see the answer before us. But we know it exists. We know that our God reveals the secrets of people=s hearts and gives understanding to the simple. Unlike others who have no hope, Christians never despair for solutions. We are God=s people and He speaks to us in dreams, through Scripture, through the counsel of good people, through circumstances. Like discoverers and inventors, Christians are always ready to receive insight and wisdom that help us find our way out of the dark, even when human logic tells us there is no way.

Knockers trust God's love. It is a hard thing to persevere in knocking when no one answers the door. It=s even harder to keep knocking when one is not sure if someone is actually behind the door, or what the personality of the person behind the door could be. We know that Someone is behind heaven's seemingly closed doors. We know that Someone loves us. We know His personality and character. We know he hears our cries. We know we are in a relationship that can never be destroyed. We might even become angry that the Someone behind the door is delaying the manifestation of our prayers. We wonder why his Adue time@ is taking so long. Why won=t the fruit appear now? But we have good memories. We can persevere and endure because we remember other times when the person behind the door helped us. We know His faithfulness. But perhaps best of all, we know that we are not knocking at the door alone. For although we are asking for the door to be opened, we also know that the one who owns the house, the one who opens the door, is in fact beside us knocking on the door with us.

But these spiritual lessons in living a life of faith, hope and love not only teach us how to see and pursue the invisible, they change the very core of our characters. They prepare us for the kingdom of heaven where life, accomplishments, and fullness of joy depend on the spiritual currency of faith, hope, and love...currency we collected on earth. 
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