'Ask and You Shall Receive' Bible Meaning of Matthew 7:7

What did Jesus mean by saying, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened"? Learn the true biblical meaning and significance of this phrase.

Updated Mar 05, 2024
'Ask and You Shall Receive' Bible Meaning of Matthew 7:7

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" ~ Matthew 7:7 KJV

In John 16:24, Jesus stated, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

What did Jesus mean by this? Does this mean to ask for anything we want, even if you're not a Christian, or asking for righteous things? 

Meaning of "Ask and You Shall Receive"

GotQuestions.org provides excellent insight into the true meaning and significance of this well-known biblical statement, saying:

Our prayers to God are not unlike our requests of men. Our prayers are based in a relationship, as Jesus points out in Matthew 7:8. If a child asks his father for something the father knows to be hurtful, the request is denied. The child may be frustrated and unhappy when he doesn’t get what he asked for, but he should trust his father. Conversely, when the child asks for something that the father knows is beneficial, the father will provide it eagerly because he loves his child.

We have another condition to the promise of “ask and receive” in John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Here, Jesus does not promise His disciples anything and everything they want; rather, He instructs them to ask “in my name.” To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray on the basis of Jesus’ authority, but it also involves praying according to the will of God, for the will of God is what Jesus always did (John 6:38). This truth is stated explicitly in 1 John 5:14, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Our requests must be congruent with the will of God.

The promise of “ask and receive,” even with its conditions, can never disappoint. There is no chance of things we need not being in God’s will. He promises to supply what we need when we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Of course, what we want is not always what we need. If what we want is not in God’s will, then we really don’t want to receive it. God knows what is good for us and is faithful and loving to say “no” to selfish and foolish prayers, no matter how much we want what we’re asking for.

Bible Commentary on Matthew 7

Here is a collection of Bible commentary references:

ESV Study Bible on Matthew 7:7-11

'Ask'. Disciples should come to God in humility and awareness of need. 'Seek' connects one’s prayer with responsible action in pursuing the will of God. 'Knock' suggests perseverance. Disciples are to persist in prayer, confident that their Father will provide whatever is best for them, according to his sovereign, gracious will.

John Gill's Bible Commentary on Matthew 7:7

Ask and it shall be given you

This is to be understood as asking of God in prayer for such things as are wanting, whether of a temporal nature, as food and raiment, which Christ, in the former chapter, had warned against an immoderate and anxious concern for, or of a spiritual nature, as grace, and wisdom to behave in a proper manner, both towards God and men: and such, who ask according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, who ask in faith and fear, and with submission to the divine will, shall have what they ask for; not as what they deserve, but as a free gift.

Seek, and ye shall find.

This is still meant of prayer, and of seeking God, his face and favor: which such shall find, who seek in a proper way, by Christ, and with their whole hearts, diligently:

knock and it shall be opened unto you

As beggars do, they use much importance for relief and assistance. So men should stand and knock at the door of mercy, which will not always be shut against them. Faith in prayer is a key that opens this door when a poor soul finds grace and mercy to help it in time of need. Our Lord's design is to express the nature, fervor, and constancy of prayer and to encourage it.

Matthew Henry Commentary on Matthew 7:7-11

Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveler asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost, or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he desires to enter the house, knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer, we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given to you if God sees it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace if they come in faith. It is explained by comparing earthly parents and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, desire, and fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.

Bible Verses About 'Ask and You Shall Receive'

Mark 11:24 ~ "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

Matthew 21:22 ~ "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

James 4:3 ~ "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."

John 14:13-14 ~ "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

John 15:7 ~ "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 16:24 ~ "Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

Luke 11:13 ~ "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Psalm 37:4 ~ "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Prayer for Guidance

O Lord, our redemption. Be our protection.
Direct our minds by your gracious presence.
Watch over our paths
and guide us with your love
through the hidden snares of life.

Fix our hearts on you as we go forward,
and following in faith,
arrive at your goal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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