Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Ask, seek, knock



Sometimes it is so hard to pray. For the hard times, Jesus offers this wisdom in Luke 11:9: "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you."

The middle part of this insightful nugget says "seek, and you will find." Have you ever wondered why this is part of Jesus’ saying? If all we need to do is ask or knock, why should we also need to seek?

Human beings are wired to take the more difficult path, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives. The idea that we can ask and receive or knock and a door open seems too easy.

We tell ourselves, "It can’t be this easy." And we proceed to make it much more difficult.

We create blockages that keep us from asking or hearing God’s answer. And when we do not think God is listening to us, we decide God is hiding from us.

When God seems far away, we no longer "seek." Rather, we have two different and opposite responses.

First, we simply "wish." But when we only wish, we will not find God.

Wishing for God is simply an attempt to hide from God by engaging in fantasy. We are afraid of reality and want to escape.

Our second response is to pursue God in the same way we would pursue a promotion at work or an advanced degree in school. We go and fight to earn it.

But that is based on our work and our merit. When we try to drive our own lives, we hide from God, just as surely as we hide from God by wishing for something.

Ironically, when we hide from God, we must become the ones who are seeking.

God already knows where we are.

The book of Genesis is filled with hide-and-seek stories. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they tried to hide from God and from each other.

Bushes and fig leaves may have looked like good places to hide, but they irritate the skin and spirit. Imagine the feel against your skin of a bush or a fig leaf with a texture like sandpaper.

What better image to describe the agitation you feel when hiding from God than a bush or a rough plant close to your skin?

The choice to hide in a bush or wear a fig leaf is a painful one. You feel it in both your body and your spirit.

When you try to hide from God, you deceive yourself instead of really seeking.

It is far too easy to substitute a wish list or a "do-it-yourself" attitude for truly seeking God when it comes to prayer.

Start looking. God loves a good hunter. As the prophet Jeremiah said, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

The Bishop recommends

An enthusiastic reader, Bishop Jimmy Nunn agreed to suggest books he finds influential.

  • That includes audiobooks, podcasts, and e-books. Among those he recommends is "Lead With a Story," by Paul Smith.
  • The bishop and Extended Cabinet are reading the book "Doing the Math of Mission (Fruits, Faithfulness, and Metrics)," by Gil Rendle, prior to a training event in Dallas.


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