Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Martin, Feb 11, 2007.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    In his book "Handle With Prayer" Charles Stanley makes the following comment:

    I want to approach this very important topic from two vantage points in this post. First I want to look at it theologically to see if it fits what the Scriptures have to say. Second I want to make a personal application/observation.

    From a theological point of view most of what Stanley has said is certainly true. For example the Bible is clear:

    "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" -1Jn 5:14-15

    The Bible also states:

    "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" -Jms 1:5

    The Bible also states:

    "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will recieve" -Matt 21:22

    I also agree that we do not have to beg God to do what He has promised, in His Word, that He will do. However what I have trouble with theologically is Stanley's assertion that:

    "There is no need to keep asking Him to do what we have already asked Him to do once...Any more asking will show a lack of faith"

    The reason I have trouble with these statements theologically is what Jesus said in Luke 11:5-13. I am not going to copy the whole section here so you will need to read it in your own Bibles. Jesus is talking about a man who has a visitor he does not have enough food to feed. So this man goes to his friend's house to ask for bread. The friend is first not willing to help but, due to the man's persistence, the friend does help. Jesus sums it up by making the following statement:

    "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened" (see also Matt 7:7-11)

    It is clear from the context, and grammer, that this is not a one time request. The greek could literally be translated to read "keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking". In fact this is the way the New Living Translation translates the text:

    "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks" -Lk 11:9-10

    Jesus is saying that if you have a request of God you should keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Nothing in this text, or in any other text I can think of, would indicate such perseverence in prayer is a lack of faith.

    In his wonderful one volume commentary William MacDonald quotes the following saying"

    Then McDonald goes on to say that "this is a promise that when we pray, God always gives us what we ask for or He gives us something better. A 'no' answer means that He knows our request would not be the best for us; His denial is then better than our petition" (McDonald, 1412).

    So it seems to me that Charles Stanley's advice that we should not "keep asking Him to do what we have already asked Him to do once" is unBiblical. We are to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking until we get an answer. That answer maybe "yes, here you go", that answer maybe "wait", or that answer maybe "no, this is what you really need". Either way God answers prayers and we should continue to ask, seek, and knock. That is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ on this subject. While I understand Stanley's concern I believe his advice, at this single point, is unBiblical.

    When we ask the Lord to grant a request we should have faith that He will do what He said He will do (answer). However there is no reason for us not to continue to ask the request until we have an answer from the Lord.

    From a personal standpoint...

    In recent weeks I have been dealing with some very pressing personal issue. I have prayed, prayed, and prayed some more. In fact I spent most of Friday and Saturday in a somewhat depressed state because the issue was not getting resolved. I kept on praying however. Last night, this morning, and today I think the answer(s) is starting to come through (at least some understanding). Don't get me wrong. The situation still exists and, to be honest, I don't know when it will be resolved. However I am trusting the Lord with it and, when I feel myself getting down, I have no trouble returning to my Heavenly Father and asking again. Not because I doubt Him, or think He did not hear me the first time, but because in His Word He tells me to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. I believe that my Father in heaven wants me continue to come to Him with this issue. He wants all of His children to do that when they have a need or even a desire. He wants us to look to Him, He wants us to ask Him, and He wants us to trust Him.

    God is not rude nor does He fail to understand our various feelings and fears. The Word of God says, "let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:16).

    I am so glad that the God of Scripture is not like a mean school teacher who only wants to be asked a question once. :praying:
     
    #1 Martin, Feb 11, 2007
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  2. Helen

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    Also remember, Martin, you are learning patience and trust through all this. God will not forget you or your problem.

    The New Living is correct in translating what is meant by continued seeking, asking, knocking.

    On the other hand, you can rest in peace knowing your prayers HAVE opened the door for the Lord to work in this situation, and that He will, and is, and that whatever He does, you will find it will be to your benefit because you love Him. That is what we can always give thanks for! That He works all things to our good, because we love Him, and we are also called by Him. And He loses none of us, nor does He delight in seeing pain and suffering, but rather uses it and works through it to show Himself to a hurt and dying world.

    There is no such thing as meaningless pain or problems. God does not waste a thing.

    God bless you.
     
  3. Martin

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    ==I agree. Thanks for your comments. :wavey:
     
  4. Martin

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    Charles Stanley is not the first preacher/teacher I have read/heard make those type of comments. Since I don't have their resources right in front of me, thus I can't verify anything, I will not name names. However I do wonder why, after reading Luke 11 and Matthew 7 in the greek/english, anyone would make a comment like the one Stanley made. It seems clear to me that the statement is wrong.

    Last night, after writing the OP, I listened to a sermon by John MacArthur on Luke 11. After listening to that sermon I am convinced that not only was Stanley wrong but he was way, way off track. The argument MacArthur made, from these verses and the Old Testament, is that we are to pray boldly. The men in the Old Testament did not crawl around in their prayers, nor did they try to sound pius, they went right to it. They made statements like "hear my cry" or they would tell God to listen to them. That may sound rude, and I certainly would not try telling God what to do, but the point is that they were bold. They had faith that God would do what they asked Him to do. After further thought I also think it is clear that the Old Testament saints would repeat a request. There simply seems to be no Old Testament, or New Testament, support for Stanley's comment.

    So what makes someone like Charles Stanley, who is generally a good Bible teacher, make such comments?

    My opinion is that they are thinking about people who continue to ask because they either don't believe He heard or think they must somehow talk God into answering their prayer. However instead of just saying that Stanley makes the blanket statement "there is no need to keep asking Him to do what we have already asked Him to do once". I think that unBiblical advice. I think a much better approach to the problem Stanley "may" have been trying to address is presented below:

    First, ask if the person is repeating the prayer because they want an answer or are they repeating it because they think God (a) did not hear them, (b) has forgotten, or (c) needs a reminder. If they are repeating the prayer because they want an answer then, I believe, they are in line with Jesus' teachings in Luke 11. If, on the other hand, they answer a,b,c, or any simular answer then there maybe a real problem. That problem is that they don't really believe God will answer their prayer(s).

    If a person does not think God will answer their prayer then I have several questions for them.

    1. Do they really believe God is sovereign? If so then the practical effect of that should be that they believe He is in control of all of life. The results of that would be that they would trust Him to answer their prayer.

    2. Do they really believe God's Word? The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus promised to answer our prayers. Either they believe that, or they don't. See OP for verses.

    3. Do they think God loves to watch them suffer? Some don't believe that God will answer their prayers because they don't believe He is willing, or interested, in answering. Of course this person needs to be shown how very unBiblical such an attitude is.

    4. Are they trying to talk God into changing His mind? Maybe God has answered their prayer but the answer was not what they wanted. God may have told them "no" or He may have told them to "wait" or He may have told them to make some sort of change/move. However because they don't like the answer they seek to change God's mind. These people need to learn that God loves them and that His plans for them are better than any plans they have for themselves. If He says "no", "wait", "change this", or something like that He only does that because His plans are better than what the person is asking for. This person needs to learn to trust the Lord (no matter what).

    While I am being somewhat critical of a statement Charles Stanley has made in a book, I am not being critical of Stanley's overall teaching in this area. His testimony provides many good examples of a person learning to trust God, and to obey God even when everything/one else told him to do differently. Stanley has a very good saying, that is very true: Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him. If God tells you to do something it does not matter how little "sense" it makes to you, do it (of course God is not going to ask you to do something His Word forbids so make sure you are listening to the Lord).

    Just wanted to add these thoughts. I may, in fact, add more in the next few days.
     
    #4 Martin, Feb 12, 2007
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  5. Benjamin

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    Ask, seek, knock...was one of my first memory verses and is still one of my favorite. I've always thought of it as a promise from God, something I could count on. Which doors or the order they may open often seems to be not the way I might have expected, but I can bank on them opening.
     
    #5 Benjamin, Feb 12, 2007
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  6. Martin

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    ==Amen to that! :thumbs:

    God always answers the prayers of His children. What is even better though is that He answers those prayers in the way that is best.
     
  7. Martin

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    In the OP I think I mentioned how the NLT translates Luke 11, or Matthew 5, here I want to quote how the Amplified Bible and the Holeman Christian Standard Bible translates these verses.


    Amplified Bible

    "Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking (reverently) and (the door) will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking (the door) will be opened" -Matt 7:7-8

    "So I say to you. Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened" -Lk 11:9-10



    Holeman Christian Standard Bible

    "Keep asking and it will be given to you. Keep searching and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who searches finds and to the one who knocks the door will be opened" -Matt 7:7-8

    "So I say to you, keep on asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who searches finds and to the one who knocks the door will be opened." -Lk 11:9-10

    Those translations bring out the meaning of the greek very well. Jesus commands us to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Doing that does not show a lack of faith. It shows trust.
     

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