Is prayer enough to make your career dreams come true? Can a lesson from Jesus, seemingly all about prayer, virtually guarantee a career breakthrough? These are excellent questions and the answers are quite exciting!
As a Christian working for a living, you probably spend some time, perhaps a good deal of time, talking to God about your career. “God, please give me that promotion I’ve really been hoping for?” “Lord, if you just help me not have to travel so much, I promise to be a light in the local workplace.” “Father, I’m working so many hours. Can you please help me find a great paying job where I don’t have to work so much?”
These are all noble prayers. I’ve prayed them myself, many times throughout my career in fact. And if you’re like me, you have also felt the confusing disappointment when these sincere requests go unanswered.
Truth is, one reason they may go unanswered is simple. And it’s found exactly within one of Christ’s teachings on prayer.
You are undoubtedly familiar with the phrase “Ask, seek and knock”. Its part of a series of lessons Jesus taught his followers throughout Galilee. These three words are found together in only two of the four gospels, Mathew and Luke. And, like most Christians, you’ve probably been taught to rely on them as a guide for faithful, heartfelt prayer, petitioning our God for help.
Yes, the most accepted teaching on this apparently straightforward passage is prayer. It’s all about prayer – start to finish, end to end, front to back. ‘Ask’ means pray, ‘seek’ means pray more, ‘knock’ means pray even harder.
In Matthew Henry’s commentary on Matthew 7 he states it this way: “Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.’’
Similarly, Calvin concludes the same: “Accordingly, Christ, in order to excite us powerfully to this part of our duty, not only enjoins what we ought to do, but promises that our prayers shall not be fruitless.”
B.W. Johnson, another popular commentarian, offers a similar rendering; “The terms are here used with reference to prayer, and these constitute a climax. Ask implies a simple petition. Seek indicates an earnest search. Knock shows perseverance in spite of hindrances. The three represent earnest prayer.”
I would like to offer a different position, one that hopefully encourages you to greater faith in Christ and greater outcomes in all your righteous career endeavors. In doing so, * I must respectfully disagree * with 90% of all commentaries on these two passages with the humility CS Lewis showed toward William Blake when he said, “…not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius…”
What if Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9 refer to more than just prayer? What if Jesus meant these passages to describe a three part process of acting on one’s Christian desires? I believe they do and I can explain why, not just from lots of experience but also with the support of God’s word. Follow the next installment to find out why…
Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience. He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to bring the power of Christ’s word, as the foundation of career success, into corporate and small business America.