esus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Effectively, Jesus is encouraging us to a three-fold approach in prayer – to ask, and to seek, and to knock.
Each of those verbs conveys something of the nature of persistent prayer. While they all speak to the same subject, they all describe a different activity. Asking is not the same as seeking, and seeking is not the same as knocking. Asking is something we do passively. Seeking is something we do actively. Knocking is something we do when we’ve found the right place. Each verb speaks to an action on our part, because action on our part is needed in each case.
Many can testify of a time when they could not find a needed item. They knew it was in their home, but it seemed to elude their senses. Calling out in frustration for some help, they heard instead a parent or spouse ask, “Have you looked in _______ place?” Sure enough, that is where the missing item was all the time. Likewise, often the first thing God gives in response to our asking is not what we’re asking for on a silver platter, but the ability to find what we are looking for. That is because God expects His people to act toward the answer we are praying for. Indeed, how can we not? To ask God and refuse to also seek is to expect our King and Master to become our butler, and to put ourselves as His master. Far be it from us!
Besides which, it is of note that Jesus does not say ask OR seek OR knock. The exhortation is to do all three. Matthew Henry once noted, “We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt God.” The Christ-follower has an obligation to go beyond merely asking. To ask and not to bother seeking is only suitable for those who simply cannot seek. The prisoner chained to the wall cannot seek the way out of the dungeon. They must ask to be released first. But the disciple who is living with freedom must do more than ask. For them, to merely ask and expect the answer to be delivered on some kind of platter is both immature and arrogant. It is fitting for the maturing disciple to learn to trust God enough to expect the answer as well as trust Him to open their eyes as they look for it. As Mr. Henry went on to say, “God gives knowledge and grace to those that search the scriptures, and wait at Wisdom’s gates; and power against sin to those that avoid the occasions of it.”
How true that is! Those who look exclusively to themselves and others for answers will find nothing but limitation, fault and brokenness. But those who seek first God and His Kingdom find not only Him, but every good and profitable thing besides!
That is because God is a good Father to His children. He is always faithful to be found when we seek Him and His purposes with all our hearts. In fact, Jesus is really just rewording what the prophet Jeremiah noted long before when he recorded God’s intention for His people, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
It’s easy to give up on dreams, give up on miracles, give up on promises. We lose heart, lose patience, lose faith. And like a slow leak, it often happens without us even knowing it until our prayer life gets a flat. […] The reason many of us give up too soon is that we feel like we have failed if God doesn’t answer our prayer. That isn’t failure. The only way you can fail is if you stop praying.Mark Batterson
What are you needing today? Have you asked God for it? Have you sought His advice about it? Have you courageously knocked on the door He showed you?