‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11: 9,10
These words were part of our gospel reading a couple of weeks ago and as I first read them I had the usual feeling of comfort, security and hope. But this was not a casual reading, so I asked myself the spiritual director’s question, “What do you really want deep down; what do you want to ask for?” If asked what are you really searching for what would be your response? What door are you knocking at? Who is to open it?
At first glance these three questions can be taken as saying much the same thing but all ask subtly different questions. If we take the last one, for example, believing that God is a loving father who made us for relationship with Him, then the question arises, “Why is the door not open? Is it me who is actually keeping the door closed against God?” There are visual memories here of Holman Hunt’s painting, “The light of the world,” in which Jesus is shown as being on the outside of a door (supposedly of the human heart and soul) on which there is no handle (so he cannot force an entry) and knocking on the door to be let in.
The other two statements of invitations of Jesus feed into this last question of the door. Suppose what I ask for, is to have a heart full of love and gratitude for God and my neighbour? Suppose I am seeking simply for God – although I know that I have found Him or He me, there is still so much hunger and desire for a closer relationship. If these two desires are explored I come up against my own habitual response of selfishness and meanness of heart, my own lukewarm commitment to my discipleship, my own lack of care for others. So I realise that it my door that remains closed to God and the qualities of compassion, gratitude and the desire for justice that at one level I so dearly want.
C.S. Lewis was once asked why he prayed because he could change God’s mind. His response was that he didn’t pray to change God but to change himself.
So the invitation is to keep on knocking, like the woman claiming justice from the unjust judge or the friend at midnight asking for the loan of bread from his neighbour; but to realise I am the unjust judge and the woman who wants justice. I am the friend who wakes his neighbour because he needs bread and the neighbour who wants to ignore him. When I realise this I know that what Jesus is inviting me to do is to go on knocking against my own hardness of heart. I ask, seek, knock – in other words I pray, not to change God’s mind but to change mine; to be more in line with what God wants for me. God is already there for me one hundred percent. He doesn’t have to change.