Daddy, Daddy (Lk 11:9)
“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 the one who asks always receives; the one who seeks always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.”
This is a most extraordinary promise of Jesus, so much so, that I am tempted to label it as another of his exaggerations, like “plucking out my eye”. But the context, where this promise is nestled in the Words of God, does not allow this option. It can only be understood in its context -in the lavish love, of a doting Father, upon a child in need.
This promise is preceded by the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. First, Jesus gives them the words of the “Our Father”, the universal outline for prayer: with its call to praise the Name-Above-All-Names; to desire God’s plan for our lives; to present our needs as a sinner in need of forgiving others; all while beseeching the Father’s protection from the evil surrounding us.
Jesus then presents his Father as a friend who we can approach with unflinching confidence, even as one who we could drag out of a warm bed in the middle of the night, waking up his sleeping kids with the ruckus of unbolting a triple locked door, all to procure a minor need that could have waited till morning.
With the stage set in this lavish love of his Father, Jesus now reveals the sacred formula for prayer which promises a response from God: that when we ask Abba, Daddy, when we present our needs into His Loving Ear, we will always receive; that when we seek, when we look for His Hidden Face, we will always find; and when we knock, when we tug on our Father’s garment with expectant eyes, we will always have the door opened to us.
This Promise-Made is the Word of God already spoken. It cannot be taken back. It is now Eternal Truth. It is forever for God to make it so, and it is forever for us to say, “Amen! Make it so!” As a child of God, I have found the freedom of being real before Him, and so this morning as I pondered this Scripture, I put it to question. I believe that if I ask, I will receive, but I do not always receive; I believe that if I seek, I will find, but I do not always find; and I believe if I knock, doors will open, but again, they do not always.
“So Lord, what’s up with the “always” part of your promise?” I never fully grasp the power of God’s Word. When my understanding of it does not correspond to my experience, I have long learned, that it is not God’s Word that is being challenged, but my finite experience. I make a note of it, reflect on it, then read on, hoping the context will point me out of the shadows. Often it does. Sometimes, I just have to live longer and come back to it.
But today, the context that followed was illuminating. Jesus compares His Father’s response to our prayers, to that of our response to our children’s need for food. And since God’s love infinitely exceeds ours, so does God’s response to our prayer, exceed our expectation: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'”
What I have come to understand of this wonderful promise, that when I Ask, Seek and Knock, God’s Holy Spirit is ALWAYS operative. When I bring my unmet needs, my brokenness, my darkness, my hopes before my Daddy, He is pouring out His Spirit upon me before I get to ask -as He sees me coming, for He is always waiting to respond. When I am asking, seeking and knocking, it is not my prayer life -it is my life. It is only secondarily a means to my wants. It is primarily, a means to my end.