The Difference between Ask, Seek, Knock

One of the most quoted scriptures relating to prayer and revelation is the injunction from the Saviour found in Luke 11.9-10:

9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
There are many related versions of this process mentioned throughout ancient and modern scripture, but how often do we consider that to ask, to seek, and to knock are not synonyms, and that the Saviour did not intend simply to say the same thing three different ways.  Although repetition is a powerful teaching tool, most often there are different meanings entrenched at different levels in His teachings.
There is a difference between ‘ask’, ‘seek’, and ‘knock’.
To ask means to give expression to our desires and intentions, to externalize our needs.  This is accomplished by praying vocally about our needs.  What we receive will be the enlightening power of the Holy Ghost.  We will receive guidance from the Spirit.
To seek means to begin taking the steps that are necessary to reach our desired goal.  We now have the Spirit to guide us and so we should move in the direction that the Spirit dictates.
When we have reached the point where the Spirit says – ‘this is the place’ – when we recognize that the Spirit has guided us to the people or place we ought to be to achieve what we originally asked for, we must indeed knock!  We cannot stand at the threshold of the door and not knock, not open the door, not step through!  We are now at the point where we must take action as the Spirit directs and as the Lord expects.  Our goals will be achieved through a combination of our own efforts, the mind and will of the Lord, and other people in our lives.
Simply put – we must ask for the guidance of the Spirit to obtain a blessing from God; we must seek after it diligently; and when the opportunity presents itself due to our diligence and obedience, follow through and obtain it.
A very common application of this is in the mission field:
  1. Ask for the Spirit of the Lord to guide you in your daily activities and you will receive His Spirit as you carry out your missionary activities.
  2. Go out and seek the pure in heart wherever they may be, continually using the Spirit to guide your steps throughout the day, and you will find the missionary opportunities you seek.
  3. When the Spirit whispers ‘this is the place’ or ‘this is the person you should contact’,  He requires that you knock on that door, that you open your mouth, that you testify and invite all to come unto Christ, and the Lord will reward you for your efforts by opening that door, opening the mind and heart of those you reach out to.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.


These three elements are embedded in the word ASK itself – Ask, Seek, Knock.


One thought on “The Difference between Ask, Seek, Knock”

  1. I hadn’t noticed that ASK has a letter for each of the words! That’s so cool! Ask-Seek-Knock.
    In the October, 1979 General Conference, President Howard W. Hunter gave the following advice.
    There is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings. The Lord said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). Herein is Christ’s reassurance that if we will ask, seek, and knock, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding if we are ready and eager to receive.

    Here’s another great article on this topic that you might like.

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