"Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door shall be opened for you." - Matthew 7: 7
The message of this passage is something Jesus says a bunch of times in a bunch of different ways: BE BOLD IN PRAYER. Ask, seek, knock — each one ups the intensity level.
Is the point that God responds to aggression, that we need to shout to get God's attention? No, the point is that our prayers, well at least my prayers, are often tepid, timid and half-hearted. Pray as if you mean it. Pray as if God were real and something might happen.
One Sunday a woman named Irma showed up at church. When it was time to pray, we asked God to comfort Sid who was getting over gall bladder surgery and hoped to be playing golf again soon. We asked God to be with the homeless people and all people in need.
Then Irma got to her feet and started in. She told God it was rough out there but that she was trying to stay on the way. She said that this week she had come "this close" to picking up a gun and using it. She wanted to, but she knew that wasn't right, she knew that wasn't what Jesus wanted. Irma called on Jesus to give her the strength to do the right thing. She asked Jesus to "hook her up with the weapons of spiritual warfare," because she was up against some seriously nasty demons. She prayed for a victory over Satan. And at the end, Irma murmured, "in the precious name of Jesus," several times, then sat down.
Not a sound until some hitherto bored teenager sat up and said, "Wow . . . like Amen to that."
After church, at the door, one of the first people out said to me, "Your services have gotten more interesting. I think I'll come again next Sunday."
I thought, "Lord, that Prayer of Invocation where I asked you to break in among us, I didn't mean . . ."
Grant us the courage to pray boldly, honestly, passionately dear God, trusting that you can do more than we think or imagine. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.