Bible with Cross ShadowThere are some sayings of Jesus that do not line up with the average person’s reality. It is at those times that Bible teachers are tempted to justify Jesus’ commands, and defend the word of God. I’m just saying… from personal experience.

My intention in this article is to take a different course. Instead of defending or explaining away, let’s simply try to understand how to do this saying. It is, after all, what the Master desires for us.

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. Matthew 7:7-8

On the surface, this is not a difficult saying to do. Most Christians spend a lot of their prayer time asking God for things. Most human beings are seeking the truth; and many of them are knocking on the door of heaven, genuinely trying to get into the kingdom of God.

The problem we face in this saying is: Not everyone who asks receives; nor do those that seek find. Many are finding the door closed no matter how passionately they knock. So what is the problem here?

We know that Jesus is not a liar. There must be something more; something Jesus is assuming we understand in this saying. Hopefully, that understanding will help us be better doers; and help us appropriate His promises of getting, finding and entering.

Asking the Right Way

The Greek word Jesus uses for “ask” is aiteō. It means “to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require” (blueletterbible.org, Outline of Biblical Usage). Immediately, we see that Jesus’ “ask” is more than our common English version. It is a desperate ask for the things we crave, desire and even require in this life.

Asking that receives is passionate, personal and transparent. It is also asking for the right things.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and  adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:3-4

In his epistle, James makes it clear that we can ask in the wrong way – a way that is for our own pleasures, in an attempt to be friends with the world. This asking is not only unproductive; it makes us an enemy of God.

To do this saying of Jesus, we must ask for something other than our own pleasures. Jesus said much the same thing, while encouraging us to ask in His name.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

Most Christians are careful to include the phrase “in Jesus’ name” at the end of every prayer; not realizing that the more effective placement is at the beginning. To do something in someone’s name is to do it with their authority, qualified by their agenda. Step outside their agenda, and you step outside their authority.

To ask in an effectual way, one must be committed wholeheartedly to Jesus’ agenda. This commitment requires both faith and obedience.

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. Matthew 21:22

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1John 3:22

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the spoken word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith without obedience is dead faith (James 2:20).

The asking that receives is the asking of one who first seeks the word of God with a heart determined to believe and obey whatever they hear.

Seeking the Right Way

This matter of seeking bears a surprising challenge. It goes beyond the obvious – seeking for the right things, and not seeking the wrong ones. Seeking that finds requires faith and devotion.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Priority in our seeking is important. Jesus makes it clear that the kingdom of God is the first right thing to go seeking after; trusting God for the rest. All else must be secondary, or nothing of value will be found.

Furthermore, our seeking must be done with diligence.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Proverbs 8:17

However, diligence is not enough.

Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
Proverbs 1:28-30

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Diligent seeking must be undergirded with a love of knowledge, the fear of the LORD and a desire for God’s counsel and rebuke. In other words, we must be completely devoted to the One we are seeking; for He is our everything.

Knocking the Right Way (and at the Right Time)

There are not many Scriptural references to help us with our knocking. In fact, I could only find one. It is, however, very instructional and sobering.

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from…” Luke 13:23-25

This passage connects our knocking with salvation; which is in turn connected to our striving to enter the narrow gate. Let me suggest that our knocking must be like our asking – out of a desperate desire to enter; and like our seeking – with faith and wholehearted devotion. Anything less – and any knocking done too late – will result in devastating consequence.

The ask, seek and knock of the kingdom of God is more challenging, and of greater significance, than most in the church realize. As we have discovered, doing them the right way is actually about our getting, finding and entering into that kingdom. We must not only ask, seek and knock; we must do so with eternity in mind.

Humbly yours and forever His,