In the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, Jesus delivers a series of teachings at the beginning of his ministry. This block is usually called The Sermon on the Mount and is Jesus’ longest discourse in the New Testament. The Sermon on the Mount was not delivered primarily to the multitudes but to Jesus’ four first disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John (the sons of Zebedee). Jesus started his ministry by teaching about the ethics of the Kingdom of God, the identity of the citizens of the Kingdom, spiritual practices and life in the community. And in chapter 7, Jesus makes one of the boldest statements: Ask, Seek, and Knock.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.Matthew 7:7
The passage is about prayer. The boldness in Jesus’ words is remarkable. There is no room for doubts. God truly answers prayers. He is a caring Father. He is an ever-present caring Father who deeply cares for you.
Here Jesus gives three commands: ask, seek and knock. The commands are followed by some analogies that help us understand God’s provision to his children when they ask. The promise here is that all of these actions will receive a response.
Ask, and it will be given to you
We ask for what we wish. We ask for what we want. But, how do we know what we want is God’s will for us? Or, what if there is something better than what we wish for? The good thing is that there is nothing that we cannot ask for. Since in God’s presence there is freedom, we can freely ask God whatever is in our hearts. The only Biblical guidelines are:
- Ask in Jesus’ name (John 14:13)
- Ask with and in faith (Matthew 21:22)
- Ask while abiding in Jesus and his word (John 15:7)
- Ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15)
Seek, and you will find
We seek what we think we are missing. You seek a job because you are missing a job. You seek to finish school because you are missing the education you need to grow your career. So, Jesus commanded his disciples to seek so they could find. What should they seek? What were they missing?
Well, they were not to seek self-promotion, the praise of men or treasures on earth. Jesus had been clear that this was not how things should go for them. They’ve been called to represent and serve the Kingdom of God. So, then, what should they seek? A couple of verses before this section, Jesus clarified what they should seek. Jesus told them to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:31-33).
God delights in meeting the needs of his people. So, you don’t need to worry about that. He has your back. Instead, God wants you to seek his Kingdom first and his righteousness. That is something we cannot miss.
Knock, and it will be opened to you
The last action of Matthew 7 is knocking. But wait a minute. The fact that you are knocking on a door doesn’t mean that you will open the door. The verse says, “knock, and it will be opened to you.” It doesn’t say, “knock and open.” It says, “knock.” That’s it.
But also, we knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out. You can trust that when you ask God to show you the way you should go and when you seek him and follow his will, he will show you the door you should knock on.
However, quite often, we need to wait for the door to be opened. That waiting is crucial. In the waiting is when people quit. In the waiting is when people lose hope. The waiting is when people leave where they are supposed to be to go after what looks easier.
If you feel shut out, don’t become bitter. Knock on that door again. Ask God first, seek his presence, align your desires to his, make plans according to God’s master plan and then knock. Knock once and wait. Knock twice and wait. Keep on knocking. Don’t force your way in. Wait. If God has told you this is where you belong, that this is the right door, just knock and wait for him to open it for you.
When Jesus asks, seeks and knocks
Revelation 3:20 says:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
It’s a healthy spiritual habit to take time every day to remember the time when God knocked at your door. That precious moment when you felt his presence in your heart calling you to come to him. When that happened, did he force himself in? Did he give up on knocking? Did he leave you alone and just move on? No, he didn’t. He kept on knocking, kept on waiting, kept on calling, kept on asking you to come to him.
Ultimately, you can see how Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 7:7 could also be used as an analogy of what God has done to bring you closer. His wish is for you to come to him, so he asks and calls your name. If you would just stop and listen! He was missing your presence at his table, so he went out to seek for you. He felt you shut him out of your life, but he is eager to return and dwell with you. Your heart is his place. It is his home.