It Will Be Opened
by Mark Fulmer
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
Our inboxes have recently been deluged with spectacular images from outer space. And those images always seem to carry a caption about humans inching a little bit closer to knowing how life began. Just in the last few weeks, the news came that the Webb Telescope and its scientist handlers have spotted molecules that are “biologic compounds,” which have been frozen for billions of years. I thought when I read that, “It sounds like that piece of chicken in the back of my freezer.”
I have a hard time grasping the concepts of light-years, curvature of the time-space continuum, and what’s beyond the edge of outer space. It all seems too vast and incomprehensible to even imagine or ponder.
The same is often true with our theology. The Scripture speaks of an infinite God, outside of time and creator of everything, including the time-space continuum, worm holes and quarks. How do we rightly think about such a God? And even more daunting, how do we approach such a God?
Jesus teaches us to approach God in prayer, and to know Him as a loving father. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to God as our Father seventeen times in three chapters. In John’s Gospel alone, Jesus refers to God as Father more than one hundred times! And Jesus’ clear message in the Scripture above is that God is our heavenly Father, and He loves us with a steadfast fatherly love. Now Jesus didn’t invent the idea of God as a heavenly father. The Old Testament often speaks of God as a father to Israel and rejoices in that steadfast fatherly love.
So on that hillside in His sermon, Jesus is reminding His followers that we are to pray honestly for what we desire. What God wants is a truthful relational conversation with us. What do we desire? What is on our minds and hearts? That’s what God wants to hear from His children.
In Jesus’ day, seeking and knocking were Rabbinic metaphors for persistent prayer. Together they communicate having an ongoing, relational prayer life. Much like Matthew in his telling of Jesus’ sermon, Rabbi turned Apostle Paul exhorts Jesus’ followers to seek and knock:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
And in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul summarizes the life of a Christian:
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
So we are to ask for what we desire, and we seek and knock in ongoing conversation with the God of the universe. Our life with Jesus is relational, not operational. So we ask our Father to make us more and more like Jesus. Then as we relate in prayer to God the Father through Jesus the Son, we enter the joy of their relationship. And we stop seeing God as merely a heavenly Amazon website ready to receive our order.
Still, prayer remains a mystery, every bit as mysterious as the far reaches of outer space. We may be able to describe it, study it, and practice it for a lifetime. But the “How does that work?” and “What effect are my prayers actually having?” questions remain inscrutably in the providence of God.
What we can know with confidence is that God is our loving Heavenly Father who, just as in the garden in the beginning, desires to be in relationship with His image- bearers. And His son, who came into the world because God the Father loves us, teaches His followers to ask, seek, and knock. When we pray, we run to our Father’s lap. He embraces us, and He longs to meet us in prayer.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)