Ask, Search, Knock


Luke 11:1-13

Grace and Peace to you from our Triune God. Amen.

When I read the headlines day in and day out, the thought at times pops into my head, what good does prayer do? We pray for peace among the nations, yet there are continuously nations at war with one another and nations that are ripe with their own internal struggles. We pray for the safety of our police officers and the equal treatment of all people, yet we know that all people are not treated fairly and that too many of our public servants are dying or getting wounded in the line of duty. We pray for love to overflow in all aspects of life, yet if you read the news, love seems to be the one thing that is lacking in this nation and world.

At times we may feel like the friend knocking at the door asking for three loaves of bread and being turned away. We are too much to be bothered with at this point and wonder if God is going to get up and answer the door and comply with our simple little request. What truly are we looking for in prayer? Do we just want a quick fix? Are we hoping that everything would be healed and love would rule the world, not evil and fear? This is all great, however, it does not quite work like that. We are called to follow Jesus in all steps of his life and one area, which Luke especially emphasizes, is his prayer life. Jesus not only teaches us to pray, he lived a life of prayer, with and in relationship with God. The disciples are well in-tune to this and that is why they turn to him to ask him to teach them to pray, and to this day we lift up his teaching as the foundation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Throughout Luke’s Gospel, we have a myriad of examples of Jesus’ prayer life. For one, he can and does pray when and where he is called to in any time and moment. Secondly, the prayers that he lifts up to God can be viewed as a conversation. In the midst of ministry he chose to withdraw himself to deserted places to pray. He goes to the mountain to pray and at least once that we read, spent the night in prayer. He prayed before he chose the disciples that would follow and proclaim the good news once his task was completed. He prayed before meals, such as when the 5000 were fed and before his final meal with the disciples. He prayed the night before he died asking for the cup to be removed from him, the responsibility of following through with the plan that was set out in front of him. It appears that even Jesus’ prayer at this moment is not answered. God’s will be done, not mine. As you can see, Jesus is persistent in his prayer life, even when his wants are not being observed.

Prayer is an opportunity to enter into relationship with the Triune God. By beginning that conversation in prayer, we are able to start living toward the will of God. Jesus teaches us this morning that we are to ask for what we need. If we ask it will be given to us. Now, let’s be realistic as well, God is not going to give us that Lamborghini that we have been eyeing from afar. Nor is all of our debt going to disappear just like that. By being in relationship and having an open conversation, we are guided by God into action to possibly make some of those dreams come true.

Jesus teaches us to search and we will find. Sometimes, we do not know what we are looking for and only stumble upon it while searching for something else. Through relationship with God our prayer lives have the ability to open up and see things beyond our wildest imaginations. Lastly, Jesus teaches us to knock and the door will be opened, even if we have to be persistent. In early Jewish times, a good translation for persistent would be shameless. Do not be afraid to continually go back and ask for what you need. Be shameless and bold. I imagine Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory at this point. {Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock} “Penny!” {Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock} “Penny!” {Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock} “Penny!” If nothing else, he is persistent and shameless.

It is through our perseverance that we start to see the difference that prayer can make in the lives of those we are in relationship with and can greatly grow our relationship with God. Even Paul tells Timothy to “pray without ceasing.”

Prayers are being answered in our nation and world today. Progress is being made. A BBQ was held last weekend in Wichita, Kansas as Black Lives Matters activists and local police officers sat down to have conversations and share a meal together. The outpouring of support coming from around the world in light of recent violence abroad in Nice and Munich, as well as following the recent shootings of innocent people and police officers in this country.

Jesus prays for us and is hoping that we will continue to knock on that door. As we enter into conversation through prayer, let us listen to where we are being called to go out and act and share signs of love in a world that cannot receive too much.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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