Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)]
The gospels relate two stories of Jesus telling the disciples where to cast their nets and of the record catches that resulted. Jesus fed thousands with a mere basket of food, healed lepers, walked on water, gave sight to the blind, and turned water into wine. A miracle worker like that easily could fill their boats with fish without the disciples lifting a hand. As awestruck as they were by their overflowing nets, imagine their astonishment if the fish had jumped right into their boats! Nevertheless, Jesus chose to have them work for their blessing; He provided the fish but the men did the heavy lifting.
Sometimes God seems silent regarding a prayer when He’s already answered; we’ve simply missed His answer because we stopped at the asking and forgot about the rest of His promise. When asking, we often pray for an easy solution; God’s answer, however, usually involves work. We ask for a plentiful harvest but are disappointed when all we find are seeds, bags of fertilizer, a hoe and a shovel. When the bills are overwhelming, we ask for relief. He gives us overtime, a second job, or credit counseling and we wonder why He hasn’t answered us with a winning lottery ticket. We pray for recovery from the stroke but think God silent when we’re faced with hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy instead of a miraculous healing. We pray for good grades but think He’s ignored us when all we see is a tutor and more hours spent studying. We pray for sobriety but, when faced with rehab, a counselor and twelve steps to work, we don’t think He cares. We’d much prefer a God of instant solutions but most of God’s solutions come disguised as work.
The disciples wanted fish, but they had to cast their nets to get them. When the Israelites asked for food, God gave them manna but they had to go out and gather it. God tumbled down Jericho’s walls, but it was the Israelites who marched around the city thirteen times before that happened. To be healed of his leprosy, Naaman had to wash himself in the Jordan seven times and, when Jesus healed the two blind men, they’d followed him down the road and right into the house where He was staying. Those 3,000 converts on Pentecost didn’t happen by themselves—the disciples had to go out and do the preaching!
God answers our prayers with His spiritual power but that power usually has to be converted into physical power on our part. He works the miracle but, for the most part, it comes through us as we turn His promises into reality with our actions. In answer to our prayers, God gives us His wisdom in Scripture, His guidance through the Holy Spirit, and people and opportunities; what we do with those gifts is our choice. Never stop at the asking—remember to do some serious seeking and knocking, as well!
Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you. [Attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola]
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. [Thomas Alva Edison]