“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I recently spent a week in Shropshire with 60 twelve year olds. It wasn’t some kind of bizarre punishment for wrongdoing but a school trip. Actually, it was quite enjoyable. We saw lots of interesting sights and, for the most part, the children were not just well behaved but a pleasure to spend time with. They were a little irritating when it came to the vending machine, however. They had all been instructed that they were not to buy sweets or drinks from the vending machine, but that didn’t stop a stream of children approaching me every day asking if it would be alright for them to visit the machines. The answer, of course, was always no. We were provided with ample excellent food and the sugary snacks would not only be bad for their health but would probably result in hyperactivity.
I find today’s verses from Matthew’s Gospel really exciting. If we ask God for something, it will be given to us, Jesus says! Of course, Jesus is not saying here that if I ask God for an Aston Martin (which I would quite like) or a Golf GTI (which I would settle for), I will wake up one morning to find one parked on my driveway. Jesus expects that when people decide to follow him, they will be transformed by the renewing of their minds (as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans). The process of being transformed by the renewing of our minds will enable us to raise our thoughts to more heavenly matters, seeking first God’s kingdom rather than personal wealth and material possessions. If we have genuinely been transformed by wholeheartedly following Christ, then we will no longer want fast cars or big houses; rather, our priority will be to build God’s kingdom here on earth, living according to his teachings, loving him and our neighbours, and telling all we encounter about God’s love for us. If our priorities are in line with God’s, if our desires match his, anything that we ask him for in prayer will be given to us.
Not only are today’s verses an enormous encouragement, but there’s also a challenge lurking there in Jesus’ words. Do we genuinely seek his kingdom? Are our priorities matched with God’s? And do we immerse ourselves in prayer, asking constantly for his kingdom to come, and for the tools we need to play our part in its arrival?