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.Matt. 7:7-12
Ask, Seek and Knock
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 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 elaborate upon this passage each of these words will be explored in the scriptures starting with the word ask.
Asking in Faith
Ask, and it shall be given you tends to fall 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 Jesus said, “If ye have faith”, as shown in this scripture, “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.” [Matt. 21:21-22] Faith or believing in God strongly parallels the message above on what it means to ask, seek and knock since faith becomes integral to prayer.
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 also draws upon this important point as he writes, “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.” [Jam. 1:5-6] That key word “but” helps to stress the importance of having faith when coming to God in prayer.
In the gospel of John, Jesus expressed further comments about asking God for needs in our life when he said, “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.]” [John 14:13-14] Interestingly, Jesus continues on shortly thereafter by emphasizing the importance of asking God, in his name, one more time in this passage, “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.” [John 15:16]
Importance of Obedience
The next point in this study is expressed by the apostle John in that an obedient life towards God reflects a relationship where prayers and petitions become more of a reality, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” [1 John 3:22] John goes on further from this point by highlighting the importance of asking God for needs according to his will and not ours, “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.” [1 John 5:14-15] Verses like these help to reassure us of the deeper meaning of ask and it shall be given to you because simply asking and not obeying God is not scripturally sound.
This dimension of obedience in faith is most eloquently portrayed by Jesus himself. In his petitions before the Father in reference to the fate awaiting him with his crucifixion it was recorded as follows, “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.” [Luke 22:41-42] This was indeed a prayer of humility and obedience for Jesus before the heavenly Father and we will see how this plays out in more detail during the next Bible study.
Moving on from ask, to the word, seek, the notion of seeking God’s will is brought to light once again by Jesus as he said, “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.” [John 5:30] Take careful note of the will Jesus is seeking in this scripture for if he himself sought the will of the Father, this is clearly setting the example for us to seek God’s will in our own life. How often religions fall into the trap of praying to false gods, so called saints and many other objects of worship and yet fail to realize they have a mediator between man and God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is heartening to know in the midst of this that the true seeker in life is the Lord seeking us as shared in this intimate portrayal toward his people, “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.” [Ezek. 34:11-12] This is indeed our blessing to know that the Lord God is seeking us; whether we know it, or want it, he is nevertheless seeking us and wants us to come to him in prayer.
Knocking on the Door
Transitioning now to the last actionable point of knocking, this is again best illustrated by the Lord Jesus in an often quoted verse from Revelation, “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.” [Rev. 3:20] 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 not be in a position of faith with Christ but are perhaps seeking answers to many of life’s challenges and questions.
Jesus once phrased this knocking on the door similar to a person coming through a narrow gate as recorded in this passage, “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.” [Luke 13:24-25] The narrow gate is indeed the Lord himself, he is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Seeking for Change
To close off this Bible study on ask, and it shall be given to 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 this passage, “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.” [Is. 55:6-7]
If you are seeking the Lord for answers in life, make it this day, for a life changing, new birth decision in Christ; for as Paul wrote, “(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.)” [2 Cor. 6:2]
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?
WORD GUIDE – * (upbraid – to find fault or reproach) * (waver – doubt, indecision)