Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ask, Seek and Knock

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Scripture readings for this teaching:
Luke chapters 11 and 12

Yeshua prayed regularly. His disciples observed Him praying and desired to pray as He did. This was a typical practice among rabbis and their disciples. A rabbi would usually include his own short prayer or benediction with the regular daily prayer called the Amidah, or standing prayer. The use of this prayer by a disciple would identify who his rabbi was.
Luke 11:1 NKJV 1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."
So, Yeshua taught them a prayer, then afterwards, He told a parable and concluded it with the instructions to ask, seek, and knock.
Luke 11:9 NKJV 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Is this verse saying that God is obligated to give us whatever we ask for as if He was a vending machine in which we deposit our prayers and out pops our selection? Or are there guidelines for our asking, seeking, and knocking? What is the context of this verse and what does it reveal about the character of our God?
Yeshua’s instructions to His disciples to ask, seek and knock came in the context of the prayer that He taught them illustrated by a parable. Let’s examine the prayer that Yeshua taught and what the parable reveals about praying.
The prayer opens with an acknowledgment of God and a desire for His kingdom.
Luke 11:2 NKJV 2 So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Our God is unique, hallowed or set apart; His kingdom is glorious and those who enter into it are blessed! He is our God and there is no other. The Sh’ma, or daily recitation of the Torah from the book of Deuteronomy opens with these words similar to those Yeshua used in His prayer:
Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one; blessed be the name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever.
Yeshua’s disciples are to come in submission to God. We are to seek God’s will, not our own will, and desire that it be implemented on earth as it already is in heaven. Yeshua demonstrated this for us by always seeking to do only the will of the Father.
John 4:34 NKJV 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Yeshua said that doing the will of the Father nourished Him! We, also, need to seek that nourishment. That request is the next part of the prayer Yeshua taught His disciples.
Luke 11:3 NKJV 3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God provided manna or bread for them each day, but only enough for that day. God told Moses that the daily ration was to test them to see whether they would walk in His ways.
Exodus 16:4 NKJV 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
Yeshua tells us that the manna God provided them was a shadow of the true bread from heaven. Yeshua is our daily bread and the true bread from heaven.
John 6:32-35 NKJV 32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
The daily bread we ask for is for both our physical and spiritual needs. It is for our daily ration of life and the promise of eternal life.
After we ask for our daily bread, Yeshua reminds us of the need to forgive and to receive forgiveness.
Luke 11:4 NKJV 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
Our sins are forgiven as we forgive others. We acknowledge that we are all dependent on God’s mercy! James, the brother of Yeshua in his epistle tells us that the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is fulfilled in mercy over judgment.
James 2:8 NKJV 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
Then, skipping down to verses 12 and 13:
James 2:12-13 NKJV 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The last phrase of the prayer Yeshua taught asks God not to lead us into temptation. This seems like a strange thing to ask. Why would God lead us into temptation? James explains that God does not entice us to sin, but rather the weakness of our flesh is what entices us.
James 1:13-14 NKJV 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
In other words, when we turn away from “your will be done” to “my will be done” we face temptations. Yeshua later clarifies His statement telling His disciples that the weakness of our flesh leads us into temptation.
Mark 14:38 NKJV 38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Yeshua, himself, was taken into the wilderness and, when His flesh was weak from hunger, Satan threw three specific temptations at Him. These temptations represent the temptations of the world. The apostle John summarizes in 1 John 2:15-16:
1 John 2:15-16 NKJV 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.
The prayer Yeshua taught concludes with the request that God deliver us from evil. Evil is in this world and, to some extent, it touches or falls on us all. Paul declares God’s faithfulness in delivering him from all the evil that was intended against him.
2 Timothy 4:18 NKJV 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Yeshua’s prayer asks that we also be delivered from evil so that we may enter into God’s glorious kingdom.
After teaching His disciples this prayer, Yeshua tells a parable to better understand the importance of prayer and why they are to pray. The parable is about a persistent neighbor asking for three loaves of bread to set before a friend. Even though the man may already be in bed, he will rise to give his friend the bread he asks for because of his persistence. Yeshua states the moral or conclusion of the parable in Luke 11:9 about asking, seeking, and knocking. The NKJV Study Bible explains the meaning of the parable:
Jesus’ point is that in prayer the disciple is to be bold. The example in the parable (vv5-7) is a man who goes boldly to his neighbor to seek what he requires. Likewise, the disciple is to go boldly to God for that which is needed.[i]
We are to pray so that we might receive those things we need. We will receive those things we need only if we have the boldness to ask for what we need. But the requests need to be within the framework of the Lord’s Prayer! James chastises the recipients of his epistle, the twelve tribes, because they ask amiss!
James 4:1-4 NKJV 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Yeshua explains that the Father desires to give good gifts to His children using the example of an earthly father giving good gifts to his children.
Luke 11:11-13 NKJV 11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Firstfruits of Zion explains this imagery of stones, serpents, and scorpions in their work Chronicles of the Messiah:
The Master used snakes and scorpions metaphorically to refer to evil spirits. In rabbinic folklore, malevolent spirits are responsible for misfortunes. Good comes from the Holy Spirit, i.e. God. From that perspective, Yeshua was not speaking only about spiritual gifts or the endowment of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Rather, He contrasted evil results to prayer against good results to prayer. If you pray for something good, God will not send evil.[ii]
So, how do we ask boldly of God while at the same time avoiding the pitfall described by James of asking amiss? Luke records that Yeshua was confronted by a man asking Him to judge a dispute between him and his brother.
Luke 12:13-15 NKJV 13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" 15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
Yeshua proceeded to tell a parable about a rich man who gloried in the abundance of his riches, building bigger and bigger barns to store his abundance.
Luke 12:19-21 NKJV 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Our hearts and deeds need to be rich towards God. When our hearts are rich towards God, we will not ask amiss. We can expect our Father to give us good gifts. This takes us back to the Sh’ma.
Deuteronomy 11:13-14 NKJV 13 'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 'then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.
Then, skipping down to verse 18:
Deuteronomy 11:18 NKJV 18 "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
So, what are to ask, seek, and knock? We are to ask for our daily bread and the things that we need in accordance with God’s will.
1 John 5:14-15 NKJV 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Even Yeshua only asked according to God’s will. When confronted with death on the cross, Yeshua did not ask that He be spared that death; He asked only for the Father’s will.
John 12:27-28 NKJV 27 "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."
Yeshua told us to ask in the same fashion. Whatever we ask for should ensure that God’s name be glorified.
John 14:13-14 NKJV 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
We are to ask of those things that further the kingdom of God and enable us to bear fruit for God.
John 15:7-8 NKJV 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
What are we to seek? Yeshua tells us that we don’t need to seek for our material needs; we are instead to seek the coming of the kingdom of God.
Luke 12:29-31 NKJV 29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
The Torah tells us that we are to seek God with all our hearts.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV 29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
The Psalmist tells us to trust, delight, and commit to God and we will receive the desires of our hearts.
Psalms 37:3-5 NKJV 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
We don’t need to seek the desires of our hearts; if we seek God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness and God’s will, He will give us the desires of our hearts. And don’t be surprised to find that the desires of your heart are to do the will of the Father!
On what door are we to knock and have it open to us? Chronicles of the Messiah quotes the Megillah 12b as saying:
He knocked at the gates of mercy, and they were opened to him.[iii]
When the gates of mercy are opened to us, we have access to the kingdom of God! So, when we pray we should say boldly and persistently:
Luke 11:2b-4 NKJV 2b … Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
God is not a vending machine that He would seek to do our will! Our will is not important unless and until it lines up with the will of the Father to further His kingdom, to bring about His will, and to bring glory to the Father.
Study Questions:
1. The prayer a rabbi taught his disciples became an identifying characteristic of the disciples of a particular rabbi. What does the prayer Yeshua taught reveal about Him? What will those hearing this prayer understand as an “identifying characteristic” of Yeshua’s disicples?

2. “Your will be done” can be seen as a prerequisite of the rest of the prayer. What does John 6:34-40 say about the ultimate will of the Father? How does that change the way you understand this prayer?

3. The parable of the persistent neighbor teaches us to be persistent and bold in requesting what we need. What does Hebrews 10:19-23 say is the source of our confidence and boldness? (How does this relate to question 2?)

4. How do Yeshua’s three temptations fit in the categories of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life as described by 1 John 2:15-16? How do our temptations fit into those categories?

5. Read James 2:8-13 about the “royal law” of loving your neighbor as yourself. How does mercy demonstrate that love?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International

[i] The NKJV Study Bible. Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D. Thomas Nelson. ©2007. P1618.
[ii] The Chonicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.980.
[iii] Ibid. p.979.

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