Ask, Seek, and Knock
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Mt. 7:7-8)
Jesus later qualified this promise. He revealed that we must first abide in Him and His words must also abide in us. Once this has been done, we will understand what our true desires ought to be and will limit our requests to those things we know God can and wants to give us. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (Jn. 15:7). Just as no human parent would grant a request that would harm his child, we can’t expect God to be pleased with our immaturity when we ask for things that would lead us away from Him.
When Jesus stated “everyone who asks receives,” He knew this was absolute truth in the spiritual realm! He had been with God since the beginning and had watched God work with all the prayers of all the people who have ever turned to Him in time of need, and there was no hesitation in giving this promise! When His people ask for legitimate needs, God always gives what they need.
But there were obvious limitations: “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (Jas. 4:3). Jesus’ promise was not a blank check to be used by anyone to get whatever they want. This was a promise to those who truly “seek first His kingdom and righteousness” and desire “Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” (Mt. 6:33,10). Jesus was not speaking of worthless things like asking for money, power, or physical commodities that are only for this life and perish with the using. This is a “precious and exceeding great promise” based on things that will enhance our spiritual and eternal welfare.
What we ask for is just as much a part of our trust in this promise as the asking. That is why James condemned those who do not ask and those who ask wrongly. John described the confidence this promise should give us. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1Jn. 5:14-15).
Only “if we ask anything according to His will” do we know “He hears us.” Since “it is not in man to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23), we ought to understand that we will not always ask for what is best. How do we want God to respond if we ask, seek, and knock for things that could lead us astray? Jesus led the way when He said “not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39). This should always be in our hearts whenever we are asking for something that we don’t know His will about.
But we might ask: How do we know “if we asking according to His will?” The obvious answer: when we ask for things He has revealed He wants to give us. When we pray for “our daily bread,” “forgiveness of sins,” or “wisdom,” we know it is according to His will because He revealed it. When we know it is His will, we know “He hears us whatever we ask,” and “we know we have the petitions which we have asked of Him.”
It is when we are asking, seeking and knocking for things God has not revealed that we must ask with the condition “not my will but yours be done” deeply written in our heart. When seeking things we desire, but do not know God’s will, we should be humble and trust God’s wisdom and love. No matter how strongly we want it, our fervent desire should be the hope that God would overrule it if it is not in our best interests.
Is there a subtle difference between asking, seeking, and knocking? Since within the term “ask” is everything we know we need, the other two are more indirect and may imply a quest to understand and comprehend those things that we are still lacking. Even before we knew God, He was assessing and considering our heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9-10). Now, through this promise we can become an active participant, helping God bring to our knowledge things we should know, but are yet unaware of.
How often do we consider the things we do not yet know that could change our lives? Are we seeking for them? Do we ponder the things we might think we know is the truth, but are wrong? When we see others who are self-deluded, does it ever occur to us that in one way or another we might be like that too? Are we knocking at God’s door asking Him to reveal such things to us? Are we ever concerned about sins we might be committing, yet are still unaware of their existence? Are we thinking about the things we should know to do, yet we are not yet aware of them?
No matter where we are, no matter when we are, and no matter who we are, God is testing, searching, trying and seeking for those who long to serve Him better if they could. We see this clearly in the conversions of the eunuch, Paul, and Cornelius. (Acts 8-10). Jesus offered us the right to become a part in this process. The more we seek and knock, the faster God can bring answers to things we do not yet see, but want to see. This part of the promise was made clear when Paul said: “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” (Phil. 3:15). In seeking and knocking, we are looking for those things covered under “if in anything you think otherwise.” Hence:
- Whenever we lack wisdom He promised to give liberally! (Jas. 1:5)
- When we are tempted, He promised to make the way of escape. (1Cor. 10:13)
- When we diligently seek Him, God has promised to reward us. (Heb. 11:6)
- God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all, if we learn to ask and think it. (Eph. 3:20-21)
Conclusion. We must never forget the fulness of this promise. Everything God has asked us to do He also promised to help us do it. Everything we have trouble doing, He has promised to show us how. Everything we do not understand, God promised to reveal. When we are looking at the narrow and winding path that leads to life, and are unsure which direction to turn, once again we must ask, seek and knock. When a fellow sheep starts looking like a ravenous wolf, we should ask, seek, and knock. When people call Jesus “Lord”, but it appears that they are not really doing the will of the Father, we should ask, seek, and knock. Jesus has promised that if we do, God will hear!