Ask – Seek - Knock


Dr. John Hoole – November 5, 2017



In the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus covers many topics, all of which we should examine our own lives by.  There are a few topics that he talks about more than once, such as:


         The Kingdom of Heaven (5:3, 10, 19, 20;  6:10, 13, 33;  7:21)

         Righteousness (5:6, 10, 20; 6:33).

         God is our Father (5:16, 45, 48;  6:1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 26, 32;  7:11, 21)


The kingdom of heaven speaks of “rulership.”  God as our Father speaks of “relationship.”  And godly righteousness is an imperative part of both our submission to God’s rulership and our relationship with Him.


Jesus also touches on the important topic of Prayer on several occasions in this sermon.  In Matthew 5:44, Christ tells us to “…pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.”  In Matthew 6, Jesus implores us that when we pray, we should not do it just to be seen of men.  And in Matthew 6:9-13, He gives us the model prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer.


In our text today, Jesus does not use the word pray or prayer, but He is definitely teaching again about prayer


Matthew 7:7-12 NKJV


7       Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8       For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

9       Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

10     Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11     If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

12     Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus concludes with an exhortation to put his teachings into practice,  But this is not always an easy task.  In 2 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV) the apostle Paul asked, "And who is equal to such a task?"


Paul understood that in ourselves we are incompetent and unequal to the task of hearing and doing God's will.  But in 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV) Paul also wrote, "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God."  And in 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV) he said,  “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect."  To the question "Who is equal to do these things?" Jesus gives the answer in this section, Matthew 7:7-12.


In other words, Jesus was saying, his disciples must realize their weakness and their need, .and must earnestly pray to receive grace from the God of all grace, the heavenly Father, to do his will.  We must remember the words of Jesus, "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NKJV), and the words of Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).


I have taken you through these six to eight verses to illustrate the connection of our text here in Matthew 7:7-12, to the previous section of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is telling us that it is only as we pray and seek God, that we will receive all we need to live and love according to God's will.


--- where we stop being judgmental

--- where we help others without being hypocritical

--- where we gain discernment to know when to stop spreading the pearls of God’s truth before those He calls swine.


In this Passage we are told that these are things for which we can ask, seek, and knock.


And then in verse 12 of this section Jesus said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." We can only do this if God enables us to do so.


Just a few months ago, we spend considerable time on the subject of Prayer as we were going through Matthew, Chapter 6.  So we will not spend a whole lot of time on it again here.  However, there are some things addressed here in Chapter 7 by our Lord with which it is worth taking some time.  Before we do, it might be well to refresh ourselves with some of what we looked at back in Chapter 6.


In the first 18 verses of Chapter 6, Jesus cautions His followers on how to conduct themselves while observing three very important acts of righteousness.  And I find is most interesting that the three religious acts mentioned in Matthew 6 is included in nearly all religions as acts of piety.


Perhaps these three are common among world religions because they cover the three directions of true piety.


1.      Outward in love towards other human beings, particularly in giving to those in need.


2.      Upward in prayer to God:


                  •  5 times a day for the Islamic


                  •  3 times a day for the Jews


                  •  Often for Christians


3.      and Inward in some form of self-denial; specifically, fasting that demonstrates and stimulates and maybe proves one’s devotion.


No one can read the Bible without being impressed with the large place given to prayer in its pages.  Beginning with the conversation between God and Adam – as they conversed with each other in the Garden -- all through the Old testament and the New, we have examples of men who prayed.  Ezra regarded prayer as more important than a band of soldiers and horsemen (Ezra 8:21-23).  Christ regarded it as more necessary than food and sleep (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12).  And the Apostles put it ahead of preaching (Acts 6:4).


Every writer in the New Testament extolled prayer as a vibrant part of a believer’s contact with God.  In 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV, 8         I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; On another occasion, Paul says “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)


1 Peter 3:12 NKJV


12     For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 


James 5:16 (NKJV) says, The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.


One of the real clear, concise commandments written repeatedly in God’s Word is “Pray!”  Mark 13:33 commands us to “watch and pray.”  That word - pray - occurs over 300 times in our Bible, and the words “prayer,” “prayers,” and “praying,” appears an additional 280 times.  I do believe prayer is the single most significant activity a believer can do.  Prayer is the answer to life’s situations and difficulties.  It is the avenue for receiving wisdom and strength.  And if prayer is that important, we need to know more about it.


Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV


7       Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8       For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.


We need to understand this is not a blank check, Our text does not teach that God becomes our servant, but it is a prayer to know His will.  The context in which our Lord spoke these words must be kept in view.  Taken out of context, it could give the impression that all we have to do is dictate, and God is at our command.  That is not the meaning of this text.


Jesus has shown us the danger of condemning other people as if we were their judge.  He also has told us to get the beam/plank out of our eye before we attempt to remove a speck from someone else’s eye.  His warning says that with the same measure we give our judgment is the same measure that we will be judged by.  Such a standard is terrifying.  Who is adequate for such things?


We are not to pass judgment on a brother with a self-righteous beam in our own eye.  We are not to take that which is holy and cast it before dogs.  How do we discern this – how are we to do this?  We are to judge between right and wrong, but not with a judgmental or condemning spirit.  The ability to do this is beyond us, so we are told to “ask.”


Jesus commands prayer as the appointed means of obtaining grace to obey the precepts He has given.  We ae to ask that the Lord give us wisdom in dealing with our fellow man.  He will give us the right attitude and the Spirit of Christ.


Even when we have been cleansed of the “beam” in our own life, we still need God’s wisdom to know how to help a brother remove a speck from his eye.  Without God’s help we cannot be sure of who are “dogs” or “swine,” and who are the false prophets and apostates.  These conditions should drive us to our knees, calling upon the Lord.


Of the many things for which we could ask, seek, and knock, Gods wisdom is among our greatest needs.  We cannot be discerning and discriminating without divine  counsel from our Heavenly Father.  And the primary means for achieving such wisdom is petitioning prayer.


James 1:5 NKJV


5       If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.


Sometimes the wisdom needed will come from His holy Word, which we need to read voraciously.  But, along with His perfect and infallible Word, we need His Spirit to interpret and illumine,  The Bible is a limitless store of divine truth, which a lifetime of the most faithful and diligent study will not exhaust.  But apart from God Himself we cannot even start to fathom its depths or mine its riches.


Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV


7       Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8       For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.


Jesus begins this section of the Sermon on the Mount with three commands given in the present tense.


         Ask – Seek – Knock.


The command to “Ask,” teaches that we are to look to God to supply us strength to obey those precepts He has just taught.  We come before the Lord, asking and sometimes begging Him to give us the grace to deal gently and wisely with those around us.  We should go prayerfully.  We must have a spirit of dependency, asking for support in obeying his precepts.


Ephesians 3:20 NKJV


20     Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,


James 1:5-6 (NKJV) tells us to ask, but it is followed by a condition.


5       If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

6       But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.


Next, we ae commanded to “Seek.”  “Ask” indicates a petition.  “Seek,” however, indicates a search for something that is either lost or has not yet been found or discovered.  That goes deeper than asking.  Seeking means we go with additional effort to search out God’s will, firstly searching out God’s will as revealed in His Word, with regard to the particular circumstances we are confronted with.


We have an example of a woman who lost a piece of silver.  She swept her house – she looked and didn’t leave one corner untouched or one thing unturned until she found it (Luke 16:37).


A few verses earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to seek.


Matthew 6:33 NKJV


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


It is as if our Lord has called his us to a Quest for a kingdom and righteousness that are not immediately obvious.


Psalms 34:10 (NKJV) tells us:


10     The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.


Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV


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


Another example is the prophet, Daniel.


Daniel 9:3 NKJV


3       Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.


         It was a matter of searching, not just asking, but searching with earnestness, seeking the Lord’s will.


Next, we are commanded to “Knock.”  We are to knock at the door of grace.  You are part of the family of God, and family members do not knock on a door expecting to get thrown out.  They go there believing that those on the other side of the door will receive him.


In the New Testament, an “open door” seems to denote an “opportunity.”


Acts 14:27 NKJV


27     Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.




Before continuing, I want you to be aware of the grammatical structure in these three commands.  The Greek language can say more in one word through the grammatical rules that pertain to it, than the English language can in half a dozen words.  It is also in the imperative mode – meaning, this is a command.


Ask, Seek and Knock are each verbs in the second person, meaning, “You Ask, Seek or Knock.”  The verb is also in the present tense, active case.  This speaks of continuous action.  It is not a one-time act.


Thus, we have the translation: “Ask and keep on asking, and it shall be given you: keep on seeking and you shall find, keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you.”


See how it is rendered in the New Living Translation and the Complete Jewish Bible.


Matthew 7:7 (NLT)


7       Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.


Matthew 7:7 CJB


7       Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.


The tense of the verbs – ask, seek & knock – can be in two modes.  They could be like the command, “Shut the door.”  That is an immediate and single action.  They could also be like the command, “Always shut the door,” or “Keep on shutting the door.”  The latter is the mode of the three commands in our text.  It indicates there should be continuous, persistent, and habitual action.  Additionally, there seems to be a progression of intensity in ask – seek – knock.


The emphasis on being persistent and diligent in prayer is repeated a number of times in the New Testament.  Christ gave a parable about the importance of persistence in prayer.  Notice the reason Christ gave the parable.


Luke 18:1 NKJV


1       Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,


This indicates there should be diligence, urgency, and persistence in prayer.  The believer should never give up.


Luke 18:7 NKJV


7       And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?


He is telling believers to cry out to Him day and night if necessary.


Let’s look at several other passage that communicate the idea of persistence in prayer.  Paul wrote, in Romans 12:12 (NKJV), that believers are to be:


2       rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;


We should be persistent in prayer, clinging to it continuously.


Ephesians 6:18 NKJV


18     Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 


The word that is translated as “perseverance” in this verse is the same as that translated as “continuing steadfastly” in Romans 12:12.


Colossians 4:2 NKJV


2       Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;


                   The same word is used again hereto indicate persistence and perseverance in prayer.


For the rest of our time this morning, I want to take you to a passage in Luke 11.


Luke 11:5-13    (NIV)


5       Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,

6       because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

7       "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'

8       I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9       "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

10     For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11     "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?

12     Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

13     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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"


There are three people mentioned in this Passage.  There is the out-of-town visitor.  And there are two local men, probably neighbors.  We are told that the visitor is a friend of the first local man.  We are also told that the man who received the visitor went to his friend, the second local man.  We are not told anything whether the visitor was a friend of the 2nd local man.  I think we could probably surmise that they were not.


As I was thinking about this Passage, a number of seemingly unrelated Passages came to mind.  In these verses, there is reference to only one closed door, but in fact there may have been two.  As the story unfolds, there is a visitor from a far city who comes to visit his friend.  With it being, as the Scripture says, midnight, do you think the first door was open or closed?  If it was closed, thus indicating that they did not wish to be disturbed, it didn’t keep the visiting friend from knocking.  And we have no record that the first local man was reluctant to get up to open the door.  The man invites the visiting friend in and begins the task of preparing the customary meal for this wearied traveler.


As you think about this custom of having a time of feasting and fellowship when a visitor arrives, let your minds wander to and ponder a verse found in Revelation 3:20


Revelation 3:20 (KJV)


20     Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


I’m not sure that it can be demonstrated that there is a 100% fit between the customary meal when a visitor come to your home and what we are being told here in Revelation 3:20.  But allow me to draw the parallel.


In an earlier lesson, I stated no Bible verse throws greater light upon what prayer is than this one.  Prayer is the opening of the door…..where we allow Christ entrance and together we have fellowship, as we dine with each other.  Truly, that is what prayer is all about – having communion and fellowship with God.


I know that most of the time when we consider this verse in Revelation 3:20, it is depicted as Christ knocking on the door of a sinner, with a desire that the person will open the door to his heart, lets Jesus in, and thus begin an intimate relationship, as a saved person.  And I have no problem with that application.  But could it be applied differently?


Jesus is the visitor from another place (heaven) and He arrives and knocks on your door.  But the parable back in Luke 11 says the visitor comes to the home of a friend.     He is not knocking at the door of a stranger at all.  But He is knocking at the door of a friend who wasn’t expecting his knock.  And because the man wasn’t expecting the knock, he wasn’t prepared to have fellowship with Him.


And isn’t this exactly what is happening in the context of Revelation 3:20?  After all, of whom is Revelation 2 & 3 spoken?    And to whom were the words written?  These words were addressed to the Church.  But this was a church that had gotten caught up in the things of the world.  It had become rich and increased with good and in the process, didn’t see any great need for being on fire for God.  Their fellowship with God dropped off to an almost non-existent state and as a result, it says they had become lukewarm and God was about to spew them out of His mouth.


But Jesus, being patient and longsuffering - not willing that any should perish -- says “What you need is to spend time with me, so you won’t be lukewarm anymore.”  But I won’t force myself into your life, so I will patiently knock on the door of your heart, and call your name, until you hear.  And then I will come in an sup with you and you with me.


How many times has Jesus knocked on my door, wanting to spend some time one-on-one and I either was too busy to hear the knock, or unprepared to dine with Him if I let Him in.  Like the man in the parable in Luke 11, has Jesus’ knock caught me totally by surprise.


 Revelation 3 says that because the Church had no intimacy - no fellowship - with Jesus, they had become wretched and blind.  They couldn’t even see their estate.


Now go with me to another Passage found in Luke 24.  Shortly after the death of Christ, two men were on the road to Emmaeus and Jesus comes alongside them, although they did not recognize Him.


They talked awhile and when they arrived at the place they were going, Jesus started to go on down the road.  But they begged Him to come to their home.


Luke 24:29-31 (NIV) says,


29     But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

30     When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

31     Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.


Again, we see the custom of feeding a visitor who comes into their home.  But I find something odd happening here.  Jesus is in a stranger’s home, but it is He who takes the bread and blesses it and breaks it.  And as He begins to distribute the food, their eyes are opened and they see who really is with them.


Unlike the church in Revelation 3 who didn’t have time to open the door and fellowship with Jesus and as a result they were blinded these two graciously opened the door to their home to Jesus, and thereby had their eyes opened to see Him as He really is.  And when their time of fellowship was over, their words to each other are revealing.


Luke 24:32 (NIV)


32     They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"


This is what spending time with Jesus in our prayer closet will do for us.  It opens our eyes to see Jesus in a fresh and vibrant way, after which our hearts will burn within us.  A new fire will have been kindled.


Lack of prayer blinds our eyes……and we lose any sensitivity of our need for time with Jesus.  Spending time with Him where the table is spread……and we fellowship with Him will cause our eyes to see who He really is.


God is a consuming fire and it is impossible to be on fire for God without having spent time close to the fire’s originating source.


Today we go to church to receive our spiritual food.  We sit in rows of chairs, as if at a meal, and expect the pastor to have prepared a feast.  We may even think our spiritual food should be packaged so that we can take it on the run, with minimal interruption in our lives.  However, to feast with Jesus requires us to stop and fellowship with the Savior.  We have to desire this time of feasting as much as we desire life itself.


And that takes me right back to The Sermon on the Mount - back to the fourth Beatitude.  Matthew 5:7


         “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”


Hunger is a wonderful thing……it gives us life.  Hunger is what makes eating a pleasure.  And without it we might starve to death.


The Laodicean church as it is related in Revelation 3:17, they believed they “were in need of nothing.”  There was absolutely no hunger for the things of God.


And yet, it is only to those who hunger that Jesus promises to be filled.


Psalm 107:4-9 (NIV) says it so well.


4       Some wandered in desert wastelands,…….

5       They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.

6       Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.


8       Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,

9       for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.


Did you notice how their thirst and hunger was satisfied?  They went to the Lord.


Is Jesus knocking at your door - at mine?  Is He calling our name?  How is our sense of need for sitting and eating at the table with Him.  It’s only the hungry that will eat and be filled.