“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Jesus speaks on the Sermon on the Mount on multiple topics. Read what he says about the Heavenly Father giving gifts in Matthew 7:7-11.
Ask Seek Knock
There is a progression built into this passage. While it is repeating the idea that God will answer prayer it also builds upon the previous thought. Each step in the progression demonstrates a deeper relationship with God.
Ask – You can ask anyone, anything. If you ask a stranger on the street what time it is, they will likely tell you. No relationship is needed to ask a person a question. The nature of the question and our relationship with the person will determine the answer we get. While we can ask a stranger for the time and get a positive response, we would not get a positive response if we ask for $20. If we ask a friend for $20 we are more likely to get a favorable response. We can ask anything of God but our relationship with him determines the response.
How does your relationship with God affect what you ask Him for?
Seek – You can seek anyone or anything but you have to know what you are seeking. If you lose money, you won’t seek for it unless you know it is lost. You also need to know where to look for something when you seek it. If you are seeking your car keys, you know that searching for them in the dishwasher probably isn’t going to help. When we seek God in prayer, we recognize that He is the one who can provide what we are looking for.
Do you know what you are seeking? Do you know where to find it?
Knock – We don’t let strangers in our homes too often, certainly not in this day and age, but God says that if we knock he will open the door. The only people we are likely to allow in our house are friends. This implies fellowship with God. If we go to God in order to fellowship with Him he will never reject our request. But if we are living our lives like we do not know God and are no friend of His, should we expect God to welcome us as a friend of His?
Are we a friend of God that He will let us in and not treat us like a stranger when we knock?
One more step
Which one of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-10
This is a fourth progression in relationship. We started with anybody we encounter, then someone we knew enough about to search for, then somebody we knew well enough to let us in their house. We end with a healthy family relationship. Not everyone has a strong relationship with their father or the rest of their family but God is the ideal Father who wants to have a quality relationship with us. Likewise, we should want a quality relationship with Him.
When we have a relationship with God we can expect that He, as our Heavenly Father, will give us good gifts when we ask. This isn’t a blank check for anyone to grab. It is not by coincidence that the term Father is used. An actual ongoing relationship with God is a requisite for a person to lay hold of this claim.
I believe that often Christians don’t have their prayers answered because they don’t have a true relationship with God. If we don’t speak to our parents for a long time and then call when we run into trouble how likely are they to bail us out?
These requests aren’t just anything but these are for needs. If you look above at the previous chapter (Matthew 6) you’ll see that Jesus is speaking about trusting God for your daily needs. If you ask God for a new job because you don’t like your current one this verse isn’t a promise that God will give you what you ask because you may not need a new job – but if God decides you need a new job, then He will answer your prayer according to His promise.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer