“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9–10
I heard a preacher say that the way the verbs in Greek are, the literal English translation of this Scripture would be: “I command you to ask and keep asking, to seek and keep on seeking, to knock and keep on knocking.”
The Lord wants us to ask Him for things, knocking on His door repeatedly. This takes faith on our part: faith that God can answer prayer and wants to answer prayer.
If you want to get into shape and tone up your body, you might get a personal trainer for help. Suppose the trainer says, “Okay, do these exercises. Use these weight machines in this way.” And suppose you go to the gym for a week, doing all that the trainer said to do. But after a week, you don’t notice any difference except that you ache all over. What if you then say, “Forget it. These exercises and weight machines don’t work!” What will your trainer say to you? Probably something like, “Quit complaining and get back to work!”
In order for our muscles to get stronger, we have to exercise them and increase the resistance they are working against.
That’s how faith is too. Our faith grows stronger by being resisted.
I remember at a birthday party I was at, the host taught us a game. He had everyone stand in a circle, and showed us how to clap our hands in rhythm, clapping on our upper legs twice, then our hands together twice. While we kept the clapping going, each person had to contribute a line to make up a story, without losing the beat or pausing. Anytime someone messed up their clapping pattern or stalled in thinking of a line to add to the story, they were out. The circle of people gradually got smaller and smaller, until one person finally won. I lasted for a while before I got out, so that meant a lot of clapping.
The next day I noticed bruises on my legs where I had been clapping on them for the game. I asked the host later if he had ever heard of anyone getting bruises from playing that game, and he said no. He told me, “We’ve got to toughen you up, Ellen!”
That line stuck in my head. I sensed the Lord saying that to me: “We’ve got to toughen you up, Ellen.”
Faith takes determination and persistence
I have a list of people I pray for regularly. Some of those requests for prayers seem to have gone unanswered for years. And sometimes I get tempted to give up praying for those intentions. But Jesus said, “Ask [and keep asking]; seek [and keep seeking]; knock [and keep knocking]…”
For example, if you are praying for someone’s conversion, you are going to have to exercise your faith muscles. If you don’t see any change or breakthrough you might think, “This case is hopeless!” But don’t give up. Remember, “God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wants it much more than you do!!
However, you are working against:
- the world and its influence
- the person’s sinful actions and consequences
- their bad habits and addictions
- their woundedness
- satan and his evil spirits who want to devour that person
And God respects a person’s free will to choose. You might be tempted to give up. But don’t. Keep praying in faith for that person.
St. Monica prayed for Augustine for 30 years. Even when Augustine’s heart started softening, he still said, “God I want to give up my sinful life…but not yet.” But she never stopped interceding for him, and he became a doctor of the Church.
Toughen up. Exercise your muscles of faith. Pray like you mean it, and watch what God will do with your mustard seed of faith.