The Practice of Asking Good Questions

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7

Lately, in my quiet times with the Lord, I have thought a lot about Jesus’s invitation in Matthew 7:7 to Ask, Seek and Knock. I have been asking myself: “Am I approaching Jesus with the right questions about the challenges and disappointments in my life? Or are fear and doubt keeping me from getting to the core issues that would produce the questions I should be asking?”

Jesus says Ask > Seek > Knock. The progressive intensity of this invitation of Jesus depends on asking a question first. Then his feedback comes through my study of the Bible and prayer in the Spirit, which moves me forward in the direction I think I should go, and, finally, I knock on the door to gain access.

But –what if I knock on the wrong door, and I have to start again with another question? With much persistence and practice, I believe my questions will get better.

Asking good questions takes practice and effort. In my freshman year of college, I took Physics 101. During the first week of class, I raised my hand to ask a question, and the professor had a look on his face of complete amazement that the words came out of my mouth. My embarrassment prompted me to find a tutor before the next test, and with a better understanding of the basics of the subject, I began to ask more relevant questions in class. The more appropriate my questions, the less frustrated I was with the answer.

I relate this gradual understanding of asking better questions to my relationship with Jesus. The more I read my Bible to understand who He is, the better my questions. The more I acknowledge the Holy Spirit who lives in me and know the Holy Spirit prompts me to understand the spiritual world, the better my questions. And most of all, my questions will improve the more I believe Jesus loves me.

Jesus continues after Matthew 7:7 with:

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Think about any relationship in your life; the more you get to know them, the more significant your questions are. For example, when you first meet someone, you may ask them, “Where are you from?”  However, your questions are more insightful when in a close relationship with someone because you know them well. You may ask them, “How did it go yesterday when you talked to your co-worker about the miscommunication you had regarding the project?” 

Being in a relationship with Jesus takes time to get to know him. As our understanding of Him deepens, we will approach Him in prayer with more insightful requests and questions.

The other day I wrote down five thoughts I had about a situation. After I read them out loud, I was surprised to see how closed-minded I was about what I believed to be the reason for the situation and the assumed outcome. In other words, I wasn’t asking Jesus the questions that would change my mind about the circumstance.

So what I did, was flip each of the five thoughts into a question for Jesus to answer. I figured if I was to ask Jesus some questions, I might as well get real. Why not go to the depths of my heart and ask with tears and vulnerability? One by one, I turned each thought into a question for Jesus. When I finished, I realized I had gotten to the bottom of my fears and doubts. I imagined Jesus high-fiving me for my beautiful questions.

Jesus asked 307 questions during his ministry on Earth. He was asked 183 questions and only answered three directly. Perhaps understanding why Jesus asked so many questions might help me understand what I should be asking.

Also, Jesus didn’t ask a When question…..Ever!

However, looking back at my life, I often included WHEN in my questions to God.

“When will I find a spouse?”

“When will we have a child?”

“When will I get my dream job?” 

“When will the pandemic be over?”

Sitting around wondering WHEN something will happen keeps me from asking the right kind of question that brings joy and patience in the waiting. Perhaps I would never ask the question that would bring me the most growth and happiness if I already received the answer to my first request.

Jesus asked open-ended questions rather than telling people what they should think. Open-ended questions include Who, What, How, Why, Where, and Which. 

Jesus asked his disciples the following questions:

  • Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)
  • What were you arguing about on the road? (Mark 9:33)
  • Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? (Mark 9:50)
  • Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
  • John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men? (Matthew 21:25)
  • Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Matthew 9:5)
Most of Jesus’s questions are open-ended indicating he cares about how we feel and think. 

Perhaps if I am willing to answer Jesus’s thought-provoking questions, I will also be willing to ask him open-ended questions. Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?   No questions are off the table. He asks me, and I ask him. And when I ask, I’ll wait expectantly for the answer and know my good question will surely result in an answer. THEN I ASK ANOTHER QUESTION 😁.

1 thought on “The Practice of Asking Good Questions”

  1. The older I get, the more questions I ask and the fewer conclusive answers I receive. I am learning to embrace the mystery!

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