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Ask, Seek, Knock.

[A modern-day parable on prayer]

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Imagine for a moment that you are a journalist who has been commissioned to write up the profile of a billionaire. His kindness and generosity are his trademark. He has given you permission to shadow him on a typical day.

In the morning, the billionaire sits down with his secretary to review his correspondence. You are a bit surprised to see that the great man attends to each letter and email personally. He directs his secretary to send out information, write checks, and make appointments. Then, you see his face darken as he reads a certain letter.

Curiosity impels you to ask, “What is it?”

Brows furrowed, the billionaire replies, “It is yet another selfish demand from one of my sons.“

The secretary sighs. “What is he asking for this time?“

“He wants me to use my contacts to find him a job with a high salary and great benefits – preferably that involves minimal work and a lot of travel with all expenses paid.” He crumples the letter and drops it into the wastebasket. There is a sorrowful bitterness in his voice as he says, “No answer.”

The morning passes quickly and soon you are sitting down to lunch. One of the billionaire’s daughters joins you for the meal. She is bright and cheerful, but you can’t help noticing that she keeps checking her watch.

You begin to suspect that she’s just waiting for an opportunity. Sure enough, just as the salad plates are being cleared away, she says, “Dad, I’ve got a friend who had to go to the hospital last month. The bills are coming in and finances are really tight. Can you help her out?”

“I’d be glad to consider it,” her father replies. “Tell me about her.”

His daughter glances at her watch again and pushes back her chair. “I’ll shoot you a text message with her name and the number for the hospital’s billing department. You can take it from there. I’ve got to run!“

“But you haven’t finished your lunch! I was hoping to spend time with you today,” protests her father.

“Later, Dad” she calls over her shoulder. “Love you! Take care!”

The billionaire is very quiet as you finish the meal. All afternoon, you watch in awe as he manages his global enterprise. At one point, a phone call comes through. The secretary answers it, listens for a moment, then looks up. “It’s your youngest. He is asking if he can stop by around six o’clock.”

The rich man nods. “Absolutely.” The secretary gives the response and hangs up.

At 5:30, the work for the day winds down. The billionaire suggests that you go riding with him on his estate so you can continue to gather material for your profile. You protest that you know his son is coming shortly. Your host gives a smile and replies, “That’s all right. If he wants me, he can find me.”

The summer evening is splendid as you ride the trails of the estate. After an hour or so, you hear the clip-clop of a third set of hooves. The billionaire’s son trots up abreast of you. “Hey, there, Dad!” he exclaims. “Great to see you!” The rest of the ride is even more enjoyable with the company of the young man. The father and son share stories about one another and their family that you are confident will bring your profile to life.

You stay to dinner and the conversation is bright and engaging. But toward the end of the leisurely meal, the son becomes quiet. “Something’s on your mind, son,” the billionaire says.

The young man nods. “Yes, Dad. There is.”

“Tell me about it.”

The rich man’s son looks up and searches his father’s face. “Dad, I really want to live here – with you. Could I? I want to spend more time with you. Learn the business right at your side. Be here with you. What do you think?”

The billionaire seems to have trouble speaking for a moment, he is so overcome with emotion. He gets up from the table and embraces his son. “Of course you can, son,” he answers, holding tight. “Of course you can!” He releases his son and you see tears in his eyes.

They both sit back down and there is silence for a few minutes, but it is a warm, companionable silence. However, after a bit, the billionaire looks at his son. “Unless I am mistaken, you have something else on your mind, too.”

His son smiles a bit, but it is a sad smile now. “Yes, Dad. I’ve got a friend who is in trouble. I’d like to tell you about it.”

“I’m listening,” his father says. “I’m here to help.”

Leaning forward, his son starts to share from his heart ...


Questions for Reflection:

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) When have you prayed for something from selfish motives? Why did you want it? What was the outcome?

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18) When have you rushed through your prayer time? Why did you rush? What was the outcome?

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) When have you spent unhurried time simply being with God and talking with him? Why did you choose to make that time? What was the outcome?

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