Ask, seek and knock. A Christmas reflection by Carol Russell.

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How do we pray?
What are we asking for?
What are we seeking?
What door are we knocking on?
I am asking lots of questions. There may be no immediate answers and it’s probably better if
there isn’t. In our age of busy, busy, busy, it would be good for us to take some pondering time,
time to think about some of these questions and see what conclusions, if any, we come to. Our
minds and bodies race on but our souls cry out for space, for time to contemplate the more
important issues. The higher perspective. The spiritual plain where God is longing to welcome
us in and sit with us a while and just be.
So, my first question to ponder is – what are we asking for?
It seems appropriate at Christmas time to think about asking. Kids ask for that special toy. The
one that has been advertised on TV for months. The one all their friends are getting (or they
think they are!) If they just had ‘that’ one their Christmas would be complete.
Some people just ask for their basic needs. Food, clothes, somewhere to live.
Some ask for companionship, they are lonely and need a friend.
Some ask for riches, fast cars, jewellery, diamonds. You may have heard the Christmas song
‘Santa baby’. It is a Christmas list for Santa consisting of some very top end items. A sable fur
coat, a convertible car and a yacht to name a few. ‘I have been a very good girl this year!’
Some ask for healing, for a baby, for a husband or wife.
So many things we ask for and in themselves, mostly, there is nothing wrong in asking for them.
Some of them are really huge. Healing for instance or a spouse or that long awaited baby.
These are massive and they feel like a huge weight weighing us down. The desperation for
these things drives us. But are we asking for all these things in the right order? It’s easy to
question the wants and desires of someone who already has loads of money, a huge house and
three cars who asks for a little soft top sports car to drive on sunny days. But when that couple
have been trying for a long time to have a baby and nothing is happening it gets a lot more
difficult. Asking is also not prescriptive. Ask in a certain way or use special words and you get
everything you want – it doesn’t work like that. If it did we would end up with spoilt brat syndrome
for sure!
There are a few things we have to wrestle with and try to settle and understand. And this can be
really hard. The first thing is that God wants and has the best for us. That sounds great doesn’t
it? And it is great until God’s best is not the same as what we think it should be. God’s best –
that’s great! Not the same as our best – difficult! Sometimes in God’s graciousness He does give
us what we think is best but when we get it we find it is lacking in some way.
Second, we can ask, believing we are asking for what is on God’s heart. Maybe we ask for a
friend or family member to find Jesus. We think we are praying and asking in line with God’s will.
After all, God doesn’t want anyone to perish. The Bible says so. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not
slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with
you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV) We can
tell that person about Jesus and God may put all manner of things in their path in order to show
them Jesus but ultimately they have free will to make their own decision. So, again, we may not
get what we ask for. And that can be really challenging especially if we think we are asking for
the right thing. We can get discouraged and disappointed with God, ourselves, the world in
What if we were to start by asking for more of God’s presence, for more of the Holy Spirit in our
lives? If we started asking for that first, my question is: would that make a difference? You may
say no it wouldn’t. The things I’m asking for mean so much. I’m not trying to belittle any request
of God that comes from so deep within that it hurts. But consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34
Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one
day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” Maybe Jesus is saying something like
this to you: ‘Do not fret. Come away with me. Take my hand and let me lead you to the
green pasture with still water. We can sit together side by side for as long as you need.
Talk to me. Tell me your deepest thoughts and I will share mine with you. I will lavish my
love on you. My strong arms will hold you, my peace will surround you until you feel
restored and your soul is calm.’
My next question is what are we seeking?
Jesus tells stories of people who are looking for things that have been lost. The lost
sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. These were precious things that were lost. Have you
ever lost something and searched for a long time to find it? Did you find it? How happy
were you if you found it? I lost something that was very precious to me. When I was
pregnant with Em my fingers swelled and I had to take my engagement off. I thought I
had put it in a safe place but after I had Em I couldn’t find my ring anywhere. When Em
was 2 we moved house and rented Wesley Mews. We rented the house for 16 years and
sold it in June this year. (2021) The lady who bought our house said to me ‘have you lost
a ring?’ I told her I had lost my engagement ring and she said she had found it under a
plinth in what had been our bedroom. I cried! After all this time I had it back! But first I
had to get to the place of accepting the loss and stop seeking to find it. Believe me I had
looked for it for so long. I had prayed I would find it. I cried a lot on numerous occasions
because I couldn’t find it. To the world at large it was completely insignificant but to me
it meant an awful lot. Yes it is a ‘thing’. Life will not end because I don’t have my
engagement ring but it doesn’t mean it hurt any less or that I forgot about it. I still hoped
that it might be found at some point. But I did stop looking for it. And then it was
returned to me. So now when I look at my ring there are a lot of things it reminds me of
relating to God but the one main thing is that God sees me. Me. He heard my prayer
regarding finding my engagement ring and saw my searching. In His time it was found.
When I first thought of the question of seeking, immediately to my mind came an old
advent hymn from my Methodist days. The first verse goes: Wise men seeking Jesus,
Travelled from afar, Guided on their journey by a beauteous star. They were wise men in
two ways. First they were astrologers, learned men, so they were wise in knowledge.
Secondly, and most importantly, they were so wise in seeking Jesus. They read the
signs, they knew some one very significant was coming to birth and they sought Him
out. Wise men.
1 Chronicles 16:11 and 1 Chronicles 22:19 both encourage us to seek God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – God calls His people to humble themselves and pray and seek His
face and He will heal their land.
Acts 17:27, Hebrews 11:6, Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:17, Psalm 9:10. So
many verses in the Bible encourage us to seek after God and that when we seek Him we
will find Him. God wants to be found, He is hiding in plain sight as it were. The
earnestness of the seeker will find him.
So what are we seeking? If my engagement ring is the focus of my desire I have missed
it big time.
Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will
give you everything you need. When we seek the kingdom of God we find the
king. Jesus. When our focus is on Him, when we are seeking Him, we can view our
position from a better angle, a different perspective. The calm in the storm. Peace in the
midst of chaos. Hope in the deepest despair. Seek after Jesus.
And lastly – What door are we knocking on? The front door? The back door? The
tradesman’s entrance? How about a stable door? Or maybe it’s the door of fame and
fortune or the door of opportunity? We don’t always know what we will find behind a
door until it opens and sometimes we may not like what we find.
Maybe the door doesn’t open. The door of fame and fortune for instance. That
unopened door may lead to disappointment or even despair. Let’s look at the door
mentioned in Matthew 6:33. It says that if we knock, the door will be opened. The
person who is behind that door is so worth visiting and we can boldly approach this
door knowing it will be eagerly opened and we will be welcomed in with open arms. Our
appearance doesn’t matter nor does our state of mind. However we are, whoever we are
we will be invited in. Welcomed in.
Jesus encourages us to persist in asking, persist in seeking and persist in knocking. His
point being that God is listening, He’s paying attention to us. And not only is He listening,
but because He cares so deeply for us He answers us. We have an invitation to interact
with a generous Father God who wants us, yearns for us to ask of Him, to seek Him and
to knock on His door where He is waiting to welcome us into His presence and spend
time with Him.
Over this Christmas period when maybe we have a little more free time, let’s spend that
time sitting in Father’s presence, in the presence of our King, and allow Him to calm and
restore us, strengthen and renew us for whatever the New Year holds for us