I don’t know about you, but I find this morning’s gospel lesson from Luke to be reassuring, comforting, even.
At the beginning of the reading, Jesus had just finished praying, and was asked by one of his disciples to teach them how to pray the way John taught his disciples.
Jesus gives the disciples the foundation of the prayer we know today as the Lord’s Prayer.
But he also gives them a parable about a friend who needs bread to serve to an unexpected traveler. The friend knocks on the door, late at night, and asks to borrow 3 loaves of bread.
Jesus tells them that the one who was awakened refused at first, because of the late hour. But he tells the disciples that he will get up and get the bread for his friend, not because of the friendship, but because of the friend’s persistence.
He concludes this short lesson to the disciples with the reminder ‘Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.’
Sometimes, we’re afraid to ask. Sometimes we don’t have the energy to search. Sometimes we are too anxious to knock. But Jesus wants the disciples, and us, to know that we can take the risk, we can take the chance, we can trust that with persistence, God will respond.
We have our Hebrew Scripture to give us an example of this sacred persistence: Abraham knew that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was their failure to provide hospitality, but he also knew that God is a forgiving God. He engages God in a sort of negotiation, getting God to admit at the end of the section that God would not destroy the cities if one righteous person could be found.
Our reading today ends with God saying that God would save the cities for 10 righteous people, but it goes all the way down to 1. That’s bold. That’s trusting, that’s persistent!
Jesus wants us to know that we can ask, that we can search, that we can knock on any of God’s closed doors, and that with persistence, what we seek will be found, what is closed will be open to us.
But many of us are afraid of what we will find, afraid that the answer we seek isn’t actually the one we want, that the open door will reveal things we aren’t expecting.
That’s ok. Jesus says, that’s ok. When we trust God enough to ask, or search, or knock, then we trust enough to receive the answer. Jesus wants us to have the courage of our convictions in order to persist in our asking.
Life and our life experiences may have made us shy about asking for what we need. Jesus says, don’t worry about that. Insecurity about our individual prayer lives might make us afraid to knock on God’s door. Jesus says don’t worry about that. Distance from God, or Jesus, may make us leery about boldly searching for the path God leads us to. Jesus says, don’t worry about that, persist, and God will answer, God will open doors.
If, and this is a big if, we can, through our prayers and our meditations, grow to trust God like Abraham trusted God, or even trust God like the friend who knocked in the middle of the night trusted his friend to open the door and help, we will have the boldness to persist in our quest.
I think many of us don’t ask, don’t seek, don’t knock, because we’re afraid of the answer. We want a particular thing, healing maybe, or relief from something painful in our lives, and we’re afraid that the answer will be no, or not now. Jesus seems to be implying that with trust and persistence, we’ll be able to accept God’s answer, accept what’s behind the open door, even if it’s not what we had hoped for.
But Jesus wants us to ask, wants us to search, wants us to knock. That’s why he gave us his prayer. And that’s why as faithful children of God, we’re meant to seek, we’re meant to search and knock. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Let us be so bold as to ask, seek, and knock. Let us persist in our prayers for peace, and forgiveness, and the end of violence in our world. Let us trust that with our persistence, God will provide. Amen.