Today, we start by looking at how the Acacia tree survives in the desert irrespective of the harsh climatic conditions. During the rainy seasons, all the trees including the Acacia are green, healthy and perhaps bouncy. However, when the dry season strikes, that’s when we see the difference. While other trees wilt and become dry, the Acacia tree stands strong and withstands even the longest dry spell. How does it manage?
The Acacia tree stands strong even in the harsh climatic conditions because it responds to the changes. While other trees fail to change, the acacia makes changes like shaking off its leaves to reduce the surface area of losing water. It also develops deep roots to reach for any available moisture in the soil. Sadly, the other trees become dry because they do not respond to the changes. They maintain all their leaves, end up losing water, maintain shallow roots and finally become dry.
It is the same with our lives. As we walk through life, we need to ask critical questions on whether we are responding to changes appropriately. One of the changes we are called to respond to in the Bible is on how to pray.
Read Matthew 7:7- Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you
When Jesus was teaching on prayer, he said, pray and you shall be answered, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened to you. Amazingly, Jesus’s teaching on prayer is in 3 segments.
Why did he not just say pray without asking us to seek and even knock? He knew it would not be enough to just pray and take no action. Why did he not say just seek or knock. He knew it would not be enough also.
Let’s now look at each step of prayer in Matthew chapter 7 and understand what Jesus talked about.
But before that, why is Jesus talking about prayer? He talks about prayer as a channel to communicate to God and express our desires. And because we all know how to pray, lets analyze the seek and knock sections of the verse.
Seek and you will find
In praying Jesus says, ‘seek and you will find’. Interestingly, the statement ‘pray and you shall be answered’ is followed by a comma, which means Jesus still had more advice on what we should do after praying. He says, ‘seek and you will find’.
First, check the word ‘seek’ and realize it is a verb. It is an action word. Therefore, Jesus is talking about taking action towards what we want to achieve. He talks of how we must take deliberate actions as individuals. He does not also indicate a possibility of how others will take actions on our behalf.
Have you ever met people who pray for something yet do nothing about it? It is sad how sometimes we want something but are not ready to take action. Therefore, our prayer, like faith, will be dead if we just pray and sit down.
However, we are not talking about just taking action, but having the deep desires in our heart, with honesty and humility. The deep desires will drive us to take the necessary actions.
Knock the Door
In the third step, Jesus is talking about knocking the door. Again Jesus is using a verb (knock) to imply how we must take action. As a matter of fact, in Israel you knock someone’s door when you are overwhelmed by a situation. In one instance, we see someone knocking the door of a friend/neighbor when a visitor came at night and needed food, which the person could not provide. So, he jumped over to the neighbor and knocked the door. What happens in the end? The door was opened, she is helped.
Knocking also implies what we feel is shut out from us. What we feel is distant and denied and we would like the doors to be opened is what we should desire in prayer.
We also see another example in Luke 18 – Persistent woman and the unjust judge
We are not called to only pray but take action, and when action seems to overwhelm us, to discourage and disappoint, you got to knock someone’s door and say, ‘hey would you help me?’
Success in All Stages
Our greatest comfort and joy, however, is that in all the stages, we are assured of success. If we pray, we shall be answered, if we seek, we shall find, if we knock the door, it shall be opened. It is, therefore, an encouragement to us, that if we take action, we shall succeed.
Do not pray and wait. Pray and take action.
Interestingly, the verse is presented in threefold (pray, seek and knock), which brings the success in threefold (answered, find and opened). Surprisingly, number 3 in the Bible means spiritual perfection. This means if we follow the three steps of crying out to God, seeking earnestly, patiently and with perseverance, seeking without losing hope and knocking the door with faith God will open it, we will not only receive the things we ask of, but even our hearts spiritual part will be perfected.
Look at Abraham, after he desired a son and prayed unto God, he was not only given a son but his faith was strengthened. He is given the name, ‘the father of nations’. How about us today?
How about we try out the three fold approach today?
How many of us want better grades in school? How many of us want to become better in their leadership positions. How many of us want better relationships with friends, parents and teachers?
All of us want something extra. The secret to achieving what we want is to take ACTION.
Doing It Ourselves
Let’s drag again the story of the Acacia tree and see how it teaches us on how to pray, seek and knock.
When the Acacia tree wants to live a better life and survive the desert life, it does not wish if the environment would change, it looks into itself and changes something. It does not wish the desert climatic condition would change; it takes the INITIATIVE/ACTION to change.
Yet many people today are full of imaginations of how they would live better if they were out of their families. Others think if a certain friend or even neighbor relocates, they would live happier lives. Worse even, some think being out of the country would make them better. Worse than worse even, some contemplate suicide or doing crazy things like taking weed, drugs or getting satisfied sexually, all with the thought, ‘if I do this thing, I will become better’.
But look at it this way. The Acacia tree does not survive because the conditions become favorable. It survives because it takes an action to change and make itself favorable to the condition. We too will not survive in whatever kind of desert we are in, if we keep wishing how others will change. It is up to you to change, if you want to see change. It is upon you to take action if you want to see results.
Example: I remember back in Maseno University, at some point I was tempted to think the college was below standard and I needed to be somewhere else. However, I discovered, the university may not/never change, but personally, I can change.
How many of us feel if Mathematics was not part of the subjects in school, you could pass with flying colors. How many of us feel if their childhood days were better, today they could be happy?
Yeah, I know because I have been there. I once felt Chemistry needs to be canceled out of the school curriculum. When I scored 02/20, I was so certain about my feelings, for sure Chemistry was the demon making me to fail in school. However, I later discovered the demon was in me every time I failed to take ACTION to revise well.
How many of us feel they don’t come from the best families, how many feel they do not have the best friends. The list of what we wish for goes on and on.
However, the solution is here, we need to take action personally and not wish how others would change or take action.
They say, charity begins at home, and I say to you today, the change you want, will start with you. And the change will happen when you PRAY, SEEK AND KNOCK.
God bless you.