To say to "Keep on asking" is to say "Continue to try." Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask, and it will be given you, search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you." It refers to God's love and desire to answer our prayers — to give good things to people. Matthew 7: 9-11 shows that God is like parents who give good gifts to their children if they ask. Those words can be applied to anything we want in life — good or evil. If we continuously pray for what may be bad for us and ignore obvious signs that verify the opposite, even that prayer will eventually be answered if we persevere in prayer.
I often talk with people without jobs or who want a different one. When I have asked if they've applied for another position and then followed through with a letter, visit or phone call, they reply they're afraid to "bother" the human resources personnel.
I pondered the statements, "Keep on knocking," "keep on asking," and even the common cliche, "The squeaky hinge gets the grease." I thought of the unjust judge in the Bible who gave attention to the woman because she kept pestering him (Luke 18: 1-8). The parable of the friend wanting to borrow three loaves of bread during the night also popped into my head. The sleepy-eyed man rose from his bed and gave bread to his friend just to shut him up when he refused to stop harassing him (Luke 11: 5-8). What wisdom those passages contain. Although I have heard them numerous times, I suddenly felt I discovered a gold mine — and I had.
Sometimes when we keep asking God and others for favors and fail to receive the response we hope for, we give up. People can become jealous and angry when someone gets ahead of them at work or socially. However, the person in front may have simply exerted more effort to learn and develop the expertise needed in the business. He may also have educated himself in both leadership and social skills. The person probably kept working at "exhibiting his skills," refusing to hide in the background. The offended party possibly stood back even though he could do the job. Asking can be voiced in actions as well as words.
I recently visited with a friend who had dreams of a job within the same vocation in which he was working but in a different area. He knew what he wanted to do but he dared not venture into an untried wing of employment. He wanted a completely new position within his organization. He would have to create and write his own job description then convince the board of the need for it. I suggested he step out and submit his idea to the key people. After hearing the benefits of what he proposed they may agree to accept his suggestion.
"As a beginning, simply ask them to listen to your idea," I said. "Then follow up your request with a plan for action, believing everything is possible with God." Every tree begins when you plant that seed.
The man is not yet at a stage in his life to attempt his venture, but he intends to follow through when he can. In the meantime he plans to use the time to research what's available and prepare himself for his coveted position by acquiring the necessary education. He simply needs to keep on asking, trying and listening for God's guidance.
What seems insurmountable to human beings is a piece of cake to God. He knows what's best. So keep on asking, praying, trying and listening for what you want, then trust God to decide. You may, for sure, be that friend who receives your loaf of bread during the middle of some night.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.