So I say to you: 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.Luke 11:9-10
Take careful note of what Jesus says, for he suggests that there are three levels of prayer: ask, seek, and knock. You can remember them, incidentally, if you will take note of the fact that the initial letters spell the word
k knock. There you have a little formula for prayer. Now mark these three different levels. The circumstances of each are vastly different, but the answer is the same.
The simplest and easiest level, of course, is ask. What he means is that there are certain needs which require a mere asking to be immediately and invariably met, and the range of these needs is far wider than we usually give credit for. For instance, reading through the New Testament, it becomes clear that our need for Christlike attributes lies in this category. If we need love, courage, wisdom, power, patience, they all lie in this realm. Simply ask, that is all, ask, and immediately the answer is given. Is that not what James says,
If any man lack wisdom. What?
Let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, (James 1:5 KJV). And what?
It shall be given. That is all, it shall be given. Let him ask and it shall be given.
A second level of prayer is denoted by this word
seek. You cannot think of what it means to seek without seeing that our Lord injects here an element of time. Seeking is not a simple act, it is a process, a series of acts. Jesus says there are areas of life that require more than asking; there must be seeking, searching. Something is lost, hidden from us, and prayer then becomes a search, a plea for insight, for understanding, for an unraveling of the mystery with which we are confronted. Again, the answer is absolutely certain. Seek, and you will find!
There is still a third level which involves knocking. Here, both time and repetition are involved. A knock is not a single rap, it is a series of raps. It is a request for admittance, repeated if necessary, and it suggests situations where we seek an entrance, or an opportunity. Someone has perhaps erected a barrier against our witness or against our friendship and we are seeking to surmount that, to get behind the wall of resistance and to have an opportunity freely and openly to speak, or to share, or to enter into a life. That requires knocking. Perhaps we have an unshakable desire to begin a certain type of work or ministry from which we are now excluded. We long to move into that area, we feel God leading us, calling us, to be this or do that. That requires knocking. We hunger, perhaps, after knowledge or friendship or as the Word of God says,
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). We are looking for an opportunity, seeking an entrance into an area that is now restricted from us. This requires knocking. We come before God and boldly and repeatedly ask, each time making an endeavor to enter in, for we are resting on the solid assurance that what Jesus says here is true,
Knock, and it shall be opened.
Lord Jesus, I ask that these words may come with fresh and vital meaning to my heart; that there are things I need to ask for and take immediately from your hand, others that I need to seek for, still others for which I need to knock and wait, and knock again, knowing that in every case without exception your word is sure.
Are we carefully noting the three aspects or stages of prayer given us by Jesus? Are we observing these as we make our requests of our Father? Do we have not because we are not even asking Him?