This week’s scripture reading – Matthew 7:7-12,
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Ask, Seek and Knock
Where does seek and ye shall find come from? The meaning of this teaching from Jesus on ask, and it shall be given you (also repeated in the gospel of Luke) pertains to the relationship between people and God and also people with other people. The actionable verbs – ask, seek and knock reflect actions people are instructed to take toward God while God fulfills the other parts of give, find and open. In a sense, the three words, ask, seek and knock could be enveloped together to mean we should be looking to God first for our daily needs in life. To further embellish upon this passage each of the words will be explored through scripture starting with the word ask.
Asking in Faith
Ask, and it shall be given you in faith falls under the realm of prayers, petitions or supplications to God. But further on in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus touches upon something far more important than simply going through a quasi-laundry list of requests to God. This is expressed by the phrase from Jesus “If ye have faith…” in Matt. 21:21-22, Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. This strongly parallels with the message above on what does it mean to ask, seek and knock where faith becomes integral to prayer.
In ask, and it shall be given you, Jesus is asking us first to have faith in what we ask from God and to believe in his provision for our lives. The apostle James draws upon this important point further in Jam. 1:5-6, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. That key word “but” helps to stress the importance of faith in prayer. * (upbraid – to find fault or reproach) * (waver – doubt, indecision)
In the gospel of John, Jesus expressed further comments in asking God for needs in our life as shared in John 14:13-14, And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it.] Interestingly, Jesus continues on shortly thereafter by emphasizing the importance of asking God in his name once again in John 15:16, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Just before that, Jesus also highlights the importance of having a close fellowship with him as part of asking for needs, in John 15:7, If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Finally, on the notion of ask, and it shall be given you, there are some other points worth mentioning on what does it mean to ask, seek and knock. The first one is on the importance of realizing that it is not in our so called power of prayer, or will, but rather in God’s power as Paul shared in Eph.3:20-21, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The second point is expressed by the apostle John in that an obedient life toward God reflects a relationship where prayers and petitions become more of a reality as noted in 1 John 3:22, And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. John goes on further from this point by highlighting the importance of asking God for needs according to his will and not ours as shared in 1 John 5:14-15, And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. Verses like these help to assure us on what does it mean to ask, seek and knock.
This is perhaps more eloquently portrayed by Jesus himself in his petitions before the Father in reference to the fate awaiting him with his crucifixion as recorded in Luke 22:41-42, And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. That was indeed a prayer of humility for Jesus before the Father and we will see how this plays out next.
Moving on from ask, and it shall be given you, to seeking, the notion of seeking God’s will is brought to light by Jesus in John 5:30, I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. Now contrast this with people often seeking the wrong things in life as described in Prov. 11:27, He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. Worse yet, is the evil and dark seeking-side of society as noted in Ps. 37:32, The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
In tandem with this is Paul’s opening dissertation on the perilous state of mankind where he opined a most dismal perspective on seeking in Rom. 3:11, There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. This was far more indicative of the Pharisees during the ministry of Jesus as noted in Luke 11:53-54, And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge [him] vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. This was often why Jesus retorted with such bold statements as shown in Matt. 12:39, But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
It is heartening to know in the midst of this that the true seeker in life is the Lord as shared in this intimate portrayal toward his people in Ezek. 34:11-12, For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, [even] I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep [that are] scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
In the New Testament, Jesus also used a similar example of how God seeks people in Matt. 18:12, How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? A parallel example was provided by Jesus for seeking out God in Matt. 13:45-46, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. To be sure though, the seeking in question in this week’s scripture reading is within the spiritual realm as shared by Jesus in John 4:23, But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
David also touched on the importance of seeking the Lord and his will in Ps. 27:4, One [thing] have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Similarly, Solomon often wrote the simplest and yet most profound expressions on seeking such as in Prov. 8:17, I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Seeking by Faith
It can never be missed though, that the importance of seeking God by faith should play a large part of a believer’s life as noted in Heb. 11:6, But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him:] for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. As Paul wrote to believers he also emphasized where our focus of seeking should be in Col. 3:1, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Additionally, Luke recorded this harmonizing message from Jesus in Luke 12:31, But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Finally, one last encouraging and incredibly blessed verse on seeking reflects the grace of the Lord towards mankind in Luke 19:10, For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Knocking on the Door
The notion of ask, and it shall be given you really becomes the starting point. Transitioning to the last actionable point of knocking, perhaps this is best illustrated again by the Lord Jesus in the often quoted verse of Rev. 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. All three of these words – ask, seek and knock, tend to bring people to one of two points in their life. Some may find a desire to build upon their existing faith in Christ by drawing closer to his will and commandments. Others may be not in a faith position with Christ but are perhaps seeking for answers to many of life’s challenges and questions.
Jesus once phrased this seeking as coming through a narrow gate as recorded in Luke 13:24-25, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.
It is for this reason, Luke the author of the Acts of the Apostles, helped to summarize how God is drawing people to him from all walks of life and bringing them together as one who are seeking him in Acts 17:26-28, And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.
Seeking for Change
To close off this Bible study on ask, and it shall be given you, many seekers of God may fear to come before him in his holy presence. Perhaps they have done bad things in life, wronged people, committed certain sins or acts, etc., but God is the true and genuine seeker of all people. The prophet phrased this perfectly in Is. 55:6-7, Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
If you are seeking, make it this day, for a life changing, new birth in Christ decision, for as Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 6:2, (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
Bible Study Questions
- In this study on ask, and it shall be given you, how would you summarize the verses in your own words?
- While asking, seeking and knocking rests on us, what are the three words that describe what God will do for us?
- Why do you think it is important to ask God for needs in life and to have faith in his ability to meet our needs?
- What is the importance of being obedient to God when asking God for needs in life?
- Why do you think people seek the wrong things in life instead of seeking God’s provision for their life?
- In Luke 19:10, it says, For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. True or false?
- Is there someone you could share the message of ask, and it shall be given you for needs in their life?
Study in Faith is an affiliate of Christianbook. Thank you for your support!