And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
-Luke 11:9, English Standard Version
Look, these are Jesus’ words in the Bible and the pop culture, greeting card theologians like to take this verse and roll with it. I mean, who doesn’t like it entirely out of context? Just ask and you’ll get it! Knock on the doors, they’ll open for you. It has prosperity gospel written all over it and, what’s the best part? Jesus said these words! “Don’t just take my word for it,” the charlatan prosperity gospel preacher will say, “these are the words of Jesus!” Except, He’s not talking about the Lord handing you every Earthly possession you need, He’s not talking about Earthly opportunities. He’s talking about something different and much better when read in context.
Luke 11 speaks a lot about prayer. Verses 2-4 outline the traditional Lord’s Prayer or Our Father. The passage that immediately precedes verse 9, speaks about a persistent person asking and asking and asking for bread from a friend in the middle of the night. Eventually because of their persistence, the friend gives them bread. Verse 9 then says to ask, seek, and find. What does He say to ask for? Anything we want in the world as though God is some cosmic genie? Not exactly.
Verses 9-12 serve as the build up to verse 13. In these verses, Jesus first tells us to ask, knock, and seek in order to find that which we need. He then continues on to speak about how we give our children that which they need or ask for and not evil things instead. Verse 9 falls in the middle of this build up, which ends with verse 13. In verse 13, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (ESV).” What are we called to ask for? What is the good gift Jesus says we will find if we ask and seek it? The Holy Spirit, the physical presence of God Himself.
This is so much better than some cosmic genie nonsense the prosperity gospel peddlers try to throw at you! This is God Himself coming to dwell within you! God Himself providing His Spirit to guide, minister, and lead you. This is God directly intervening and being a part of our life, being physically present through all the trials we will invariably face. He never promises a perfect life for those who follow Him. He promises the opposite, in fact (John 15:20). However, He constantly promises to be present (Matthew 28:19-20). That’s the Holy Spirit and I am so thankful for that.