The number three is very common in popular culture today when it comes to short stories or even jokes that have a setup of three persons. Three shows up in a lot of folklore such as the original 1001 Nights where the main character gets a lamp that contains a genie, a magical being who grants three wishes to its owner.
In our world today, there’s a “genie in a bottle” approach to God that will do what we want according to our will and expectations. When life is good, we don’t need Him as much. When life isn’t going to plan, we rub the bottle and expect God to pop out and fix whatever needs fixing. If He doesn’t, we conclude He isn’t a good God or that there is no God to begin with.
The irony in this type of negotiating is that God actually loves to answer our prayers. When Jesus walked this earth, he taught his disciples a three-fold pattern to pray effectively—ask, seek, knock:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Ask, seek, knock; all of these verbs are present imperatives, which means there is a continual action involved on our part. Ask and be persistent in asking, seek and keep looking, knock and believe that God can open the door. In essence, pray without ceasing!
In our culture of abundance, we often know exactly what to do and who to call when a problem arises. We’ve learned to rely on our education, experience, and resources rather than on the One who can “meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). It doesn’t mean that believers won’t ever experience times of need, but it does mean that we have an open invitation to come to God no matter the time of day, expense of the need, or inconvenience.
Learn to activate the three-fold pattern of prayer in your life when you click the sermon links below.
Next week I’ll be attending the world’s largest gathering of Christian communicators and ministry leaders at the National Religious Broadcaster’s convention in Nashville, Tennessee. NRB brings together Christian communicators in radio, TV, film, and church media to learn, grow, and engage with one another. It’s a great time to promote both the work and ministry of Bold Steps and the Moody Bible Institute. Thank you in advance for your prayers on my behalf!
Mark Jobe serves as president of Moody Bible Institute and host of Moody Radio's Bold Steps. He is the author of Unstuck: Out of Your Cave into Your Call (Moody Publishers). He is also the founding pastor of New Life Community Church, a Chicago-based ministry with 27 locations throughout Chicago. Mark earned a diploma from Moody in 1984, a master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in transformational leadership from Bakke Graduate University. He and his wife, Dee, have three adult children.
Bold Steps with Dr. Mark Jobe takes you on the path to freedom and authenticity in Christ. With candid, topical teaching from God’s Word, Dr. Jobe offers simple gospel messages with the power to transform your life.