Ask, Seek, and Knock

The intent of prayer is not to inform God of something because if the intent of prayer were to inform God of something, it would suggest that God isn’t all knowing. Moreover, the Bible is clear that God knows what you need before you even ask.1 Yet, if God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?

We pray for many reasons including the fact that God’s Word commands us to pray. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”2 So although God knows what we need before we ask, God still tells us to pray, and in obedience we do so. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”3

Your Part in Prayer, a Must

Notice in the text that all three verbs, “ask, seek, and knock” are imperative commands. These necessary directives clearly imply that Christ expects every believer to be active in prayer. So, while our Lord knows what we need, we still must ask.

When you study the original Greek in the New Testament, there are two basic kinds of imperatives. There’s an aorist imperative, and a present imperative. The aorist imperative is a command to do a particular thing at one specific time. In contrast, the present imperative is a command not only to do something, but to keep on doing it indefinitely. Hence, the present tense implies continuous, persistent action. What Jesus is saying then in this text is not only that we must ask, but we also must ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking; and knock and keep on knocking.

Put Your Prayers into Action

Additionally, these present tense imperative verbs, “ask, seek, and knock,” have a natural progression of action from least aggressive to most aggressive. In other words, there’s a reason Jesus put these words in this order. Jesus is saying not only must we engage in continuous, persistent action, but He’s also saying that the very words, “ask, seek, and knock,” suggest an ever increasing intensity in prayer.

Step 1 ask. When you ask someone something, you’re making a request of them. Asking in prayer is to make a request of God. We ask something of God when we have a need, and we ask something of God because He can provide for all of our needs. If we want to receive, we must ask.

Step 2 seek. Seeking is asking, plus action. We seek when we need something of value to us. There are times when we need to take an active role in the prayer process. If we want to find, we must seek. While you must ask, you also must act.

Step 3 knock. Knocking is asking plus action, plus attitude. This implies our petition in asking, our purpose in seeking, and our persistence in knocking. For example, we knock when we are shut out from what we need and desire entrance. Therefore, when attempting to enter a door, we continually knock until we gain entrance.

If God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?

Again, Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”4

This is continuous action, and it’s intensified, aggressive action until we get what we need!

So, don’t grow weary in asking God for what you need! Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”5 


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1  Matthew 6:8

2  Philippians 4:6

3  Matthew 7:7

4  Matthew 7:7-8

5  Galatians 6:9

This article is part of our 2018 May / June Issue
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How Long Do You Knock?

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 04.26.2017” on Spreaker.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7–11).

How Long Can You Wait?

How long does it take for you to give up when you ask God something? I mean, if you ask Him a question and you do not discern the answer, how long does it take before you stop? How long before you stop seeking His guidance? How long do you knock on heaven’s door before you walk away discouraged? Something to think about, isn’t it?

Guess what? God wants nothing more than to answer your prayers, be found of you, and to throw open the windows of heaven’s blessings in your direction. The problem is too many of us take our asking, seeking, and knocking lightly. We don’t seek hard after God as a thirsty deer seeks water in a brook. We don’t press our way toward God half as much as money hungry business people aspire to their next million. We don’t yearn for His presence like people with chronic pain yearn for relief, or near drowning victims yearn for firm footing and their next breath. Could it be that we are just one more day from that tremendous outcome we once desired, but gave up on? Could it be that God was working on your tenacity and purifying your desires, but you stopped short?

Keep Seeking

Today’s thought is far from a mere motivational speech to drive you to your next level of living. It’s an entreaty to those who wish to seek God like life itself. It’s a clarion call for you to keep asking; keep seeking; keep knocking until the Lord gives you the gifts that are for your best good. Keep petitioning God until you want nothing more than to hear His voice. The blessing is that this is not a stab in the dark where the outcome is unsure. If you continue seeking unto your God for all your desires, He will purify them, you, and then give you whatever will bring you closest to Him. And when He does, you will be so glad He did.

Don’t give up. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. While you’re at it, ask for a healthy portion of God’s Spirit too. He will grant you the desires of your heart.

Pray In My Name And I Will Do It!–Jesus

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, February 20, 2016

This Week’s Devotional Focus is, “Prayer.”

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13–14).

Will our real benefactor please stand up? Oftentimes people are confused about who actually answers our prayers. They have a misconception that Jesus came to earth to somehow jump in front of a bullet that has already left the chamber of the Father’s pistol, or to recommend us to God so He does not destroy us. What a sad commentary when the Bible says that God (the Father) so loved us that He gave His precious other self (the Son) so we could have eternal life. God our Father is our divine Benefactor. Yet at the same time, there is a mysterious eternal unity between the Father and the Son that makes them one in every vital way (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30). Jesus is our divine Benefactor.

One way this beautiful point is illustrated is in the machinery of prayer. Not many realize that Jesus actually has the power and authority to answer our prayers. Remember, the misconception is that Jesus only pleads for us and has to lay by and await the Father’s doling out of gifts for those whom Jesus advocates. Notice that our theme text says that the Father is glorified when the Son answers prayers prayed in Jesus’ name. Jesus said, “If ye ask anything in my name I will do it.” The emphasis here is placed on Jesus’ authority. We must ask in His name (i.e. in a manner that respects His sacrifice and will in the matter). We must await His answer (i.e. the answer of Jesus Christ Himself). The Father is glorified when the Son can answer the sincere prayer of one of His children who gladly exchanges their own characters for that which comes through faith in Christ. And all this is not to mention the beneficence of the Holy Spirit who also bathes our sincere prayers in His heavenly groanings that are too deep for words.

So the next time you pray (hopefully soon), do so with the full assurance that the Father who loves you and loves to answer prayers has great company in the person of His Son who also has the power to answer sincere prayers. All of the powers of heaven are trained upon the earth to make it possible for all who have learned to love God to have our prayers answered according to God’s will, and in the precious name of Jesus.