“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10, NRSV)
Luke puts this in an interesting place. It comes right after Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. And so, I am drawn to read these promises about the outcome of prayer in terms of the prayer Jesus teaches us to pray.
We are instructed to pray for “our daily bread,” the forgiveness of our sins, and protection from temptation, trial, and evil. We pray as well for God’s name to be hallowed and for the Father’s kingdom to come.
I worry that in following Luke’s lead here that I am restraining too much the meaning of those words “ask, seek, knock.” Putting God in a box is a problem I’ve inherited from growing up in America in the late 20th century. But I do think some people read the promises here in terms of American materialism.
“If I pray for a new car, God will bring it to me.”
And others prey on these hopes by waving these verses in front of people with “testimonies” of people who prayed — and wrote checks — and had people show up on their door with thousands of dollars.
It may be that I fear those who prostitute the promises of God too much and therefore am not bold enough in my expectations of prayer. Reading Luke this morning, however, leads me to make these links between what Jesus taught us to pray and what he taught us to expect from prayer.