Ask, Seek, Knock: They Are Not the Same Things

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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

For most of my life I understood this statement from Jesus as simply an admonition to pray so that God will answer you. While that may be a part of the truth that is being spoken here, I believe there is more depth to Jesus’ words. I do not think Jesus was being redundant just to get His point across. God definitely hears our prayers and when we pray in faith, His answer will come. As it is often said, it may not be the answer we were looking for but He answers nonetheless.


The Greek word used for “ask” in this passage is αἰτέω (aiteo, ī-te’-ō) which means to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. As it is defined here, it is clear that there is hint of desperation. It’s not a take it or leave it type of asking. Sometimes you may ask for something and it does not matter too much if you do not receive it. This is not that level of asking. There is a true desire to receive in this case. When you ask you are requesting that an answer, solution or need is fulfilled.

If you are not convinced that you need what you are asking from God, do not ask. When you are convinced, now is the time to ask and believe that you will receive. James tells us that asking in faith is a requirement of receiving.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8


Seeking is not asking. In case you were confused they are two different words with different meanings. Seek in Greek is ζητέω (zēteō, zā-te’-ō) meaning to seek a thing; to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into; to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after; to seek i.e. require, demand; to crave, demand something from someone. Now you are searching or looking for something or someone.

Some of the most valuable treasure is hidden. The same is true with God. The deeper things of God must be searched out.

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Proverbs 25:2

It is to your benefit to search out the hidden things of God. These revelations can be life changing moments that completely rearrange our thinking. The search begins first and foremost in the Word of God. Only through the insight of the Holy Spirit can you understand and apply His Truth.

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! Psalm 119:10

Your whole heart needs to be engaged in this search. The Greek meaning much like “ask” is not a passive word but it implies a deep desire to know. Your fully convinced heart will lead you to new discoveries in the ways of God.


Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door! A great song but I don’t know that Bob Dylan’s inspiration was this passage of scripture. Maybe it was? Back to the Greek meanings — κρούω (krouō, krü’-ō) means to simply knock at the door. Knocking is something you do when you want to gain access into a place. Most of the time when you knock on a door it is because you want to enter into a room that is not yours. All of God’s promises are yes, but you do not currently have access to all of them. The spiritual truth is that they are available, but something has to be done on your end to access them.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Your faith journey will bring you to different doors that you will need to knock on. You will not need to have access to everything at all times. God will supply what you need when you need it. There are blessings, promises and encounters that you have yet to gain access to because you have not knocked. New realms of glory are waiting on you. New levels of faith are available. What door are you standing in front of now?

In some moments you need to ask. In others you must seek and still other situations call for a knock. Let the Holy Spirit guide you when you need of an answer. Be assured that God is ready to give, to be found and to open.


About the Author


Mark is a marketer and sometimes writer. He's trying to get better at that sometimes thing.

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