In the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Christ Jesus’ counsel: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7).
“Ask and it shall be given you.” When we ask our Father for help, what is our tone? Are we demanding? Are we pleading? Are we bargaining? Are we begging? And, what are we asking for? Is it health, material things, better human relations, a better job, more money? Are we unselfish in our asking or are we totally self-centered?
James 4:3 reminds us, “Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss.” Are we asking amiss or asking with the wrong motive? Are we trying to change someone’s mind or to prove ourselves right?
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “What are our motives for prayer? Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void.”
If we ask our Father for kindness, love and understanding, we are then without human uncertainty and we will receive what we ask for. We will receive more compassion and a greater awareness of infinite life. This asking is blessed and we will receive the blessing.
“Seek and ye shall find.” Seeking involves effort on our part. It involves searching, rejecting the false in order to find the right, the truth. Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus admonished, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
How do we seek the kingdom of God? By seeking within our own thinking, by rooting out false ideas, fears, material thinking. By finding our natural place in God’s kingdom. As we do this consistently, not just in crises, we will find the peace and harmony which exists in the kingdom of God. Eddy wrote, “The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.” So, as we seek our own through helping others, we will find our needs taken care of also.
“Knock and it shall be opened to you.” Knocking seems courteous to me. It seems orderly and polite. You don’t push the door down. You don’t try to batter it. You don’t bang on the door. You knock and you wait for it to be opened to you.
In our experience we may have to wait for the door to be opened. But it will open, as we see our closeness with God and our individual expression of the Christ. Truth, God, will open the way. He will open the door. When Peter was in prison, angels came and released him. Then he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John. Acts recounts that “Peter knocked at the door of the gate” (13:12). He had to wait for those gathered there to acknowledge him before they would open the door. But the door did open and he was joyously welcomed in.
Recently, I had the opportunity to prove these ideas. My husband and I moved. He was unable to help with any of the tasks of moving. In the process, there was a lot of logistical, legal, financial and technical business to attend to. It all fell squarely on my shoulders. There were moments that I was pleading with God. Other times I was searching for answers in the wrong places. And other times I was banging on a prayer-door pleading for admission.
Then, one day, after an explosion of frustration, I went into a room to quiet down. After a while, I was able to be calm. Jesus referred to this as a closet or a quiet room (Matthew 6). I began to listen humbly. I stopped telling God what I needed. I was genuinely asking for insight. I began seeking His wisdom and a better understanding of his kingdom. I was now calmly asking, seeking and knocking at the door and patiently waiting for it to open and welcome me in. I felt more at peace than I’d felt for days.
Slowly, over the next few days, one by one, questions were answered and mistakes were corrected. I am learning that asking, seeking and knocking in the right way, the spiritual way, does bring results.
Celia Nygard is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in State College.