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)
Many people are familiar with this passage, and much has been written about what it promises. But I would like focus, for a moment, on what it does not say. It says, “Ask, seek and knock,” not, “Ask, sit and wait.” In other words, it is an active process, not a passive one, and our responsibility does not begin and end with asking. There is also seeking and knocking.
Ask. Asking is not just realizing that you have a need. It requires that you articulate that need, and more especially, what is the solution you desire. And you must take the request to the appropriate source. Many people fail to receive what they need because they do not ask. “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Or they ask with the wrong motive. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Or they do not ask with the appropriate specificity. For example, you may have a lot of money in your bank account, but you cannot simply walk in and say, “I need money” and expect to receive. They will first need to know how much of your money you want to withdraw and then, upon your signature, they will get it for you.
Receive. With asking comes receiving. The promise is that when you ask, whatever you ask will be given to you. But that is not enough. You must also receive it. The Greek word for “receive” here is lambano, and means to take, to lay hold, to procure and make it your own (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It is not passive, but active. It is the same word we find in Mark 11:24, where Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The NASB says, “Believe that you have received them.” We lay hold by actively believing that it has been granted.
Seek. Having asked, and confident that we have received, it is time to actively watch for it, to search diligently for it and actively seek it out. It may call for research, and will certainly require discernment. Many may ask, believe that they have received it, but then miss it when it comes because they do not watch for it or recognize it, so it passes them by. Bummer. When we ask, we must then be certain to watch for it and expect to see it.
Find. When we diligently watch for and seek out the answer, confident that we have already receive it, we will find it. The Greek word for “find” is huerisko and means to come upon, hit upon, meet up with “to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience,” to “see, learn, discover, understand” (Thayer’s).
Knock. Many times when we ask and then seek, what we will find is a door, and it will be closed. Do not stop there and go away or you will miss your answer. You must knock. When you do, you will discover that it will be opened for you—God will see to it. Now, you may find some doors, when they are opened up to you, do not hold your answer. In that case, you keep seeking until you find the door that does. That door does exist, and your answer will surely be there.
Some people ask God for things, but do not lay hold of them by faith. Then they sit and wait, and wait, and wait, and wonder why the answer never showed up. But faith not only waits for the answer, it puts on it shoes and diligently searches for the answer, patiently knocking on all the doors it finds until it gets to the right one.