Ask, Seek, Knock
Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh , it shall be opened (3 Nephi 6:3). “Just after the caution to not give holy things to the unworthy, Christ reminds all of their obligation to ask, seek, and knock. If you will ask, it will be given to you. If you seek, you will find it. If you knock, things will be opened to you. But be careful not to give what is holy to the unworthy. These ideas are related in two ways: First, if you want what is holy, then stop being a dog or a swine. Ask, seek, and knock. Second, if you are one who is qualified and will receive holy things by your willingness to be repentant, then press forward by asking, seeking, and knocking. If you do, the things which are most holy will be given. For everyone that asketh, receiveth. Really? Everyone? Even you? That is what Christ is saying. However, the manner in which you will receive is illustrated by ‘The Missing Virtue’ in Ten Parables.1 Meaning that the effort to receive what you have asked the Lord could take nearly two decades, and a great deal of internal changing before you acquire what you lack. Receiving may include not only what you’ve asked to receive, but also everything you do not have in order to finally qualify to receive what you seek. What do you associate with findeth? Does it suggest to you active effort, or passive receipt? To find something you are missing (even a small thing) what must you do? If searching is required to locate, then what do you suppose the Lord is implying by the word findeth? What does it mean that it shall be opened? Does opening imply merely a view? Does it suggest also entering in? If it opens to view, and you then fail to enter in, has opening been worthwhile? Has anything been accomplished? Does it suggest that there is activity required of someone who has something opened unto them? It is my view that the words chosen all imply a burden upon the one who asks, seeks, and knocks. They are not entitled to anything just by speaking the words. They must make the effort to search into and contemplate the things they seek. Then they must change and repent of everything amiss in their lives that is revealed to them. This is to be done before they can see what is to be shown to them. If, for example, a person wants to see the other side of the mountain, they can ask daily for a view to be opened to them without ever seeing the other side. But if the Lord prompts them to take the path to the top, the Lord has given them the means to find and have opened to them the very thing they seek. Provided, of course, they are willing to walk in the path to the top of the mountain. When they remain on the valley floor, asking or demanding more, they are not really asking, seeking, and knocking. They are irritating and ungrateful. The Lord’s small means are capable of taking the one who seeks to the very thing they desire (Alma 17:8). But without cooperation with Him they can receive nothing. The Lord’s small means are how great things are brought to pass (1 Nephi 5:8). But for some people the Lord’s answers are never enough. However, when the humble who ask, seek, and knock follow Him in these small means, they will eventually stand in His presence and partake of eternal life. But not until they have done as all others have done before them.”2
Mankind is impatient, wanting quickly what can sometimes only be obtained in patience. Human nature is to rush, but development requires patience. Some things require time and persistence to prepare one for the blessings they seek. Joseph remarked: The things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out (T&C 138:18). This is the way of God. It is adapted to give all what they lack, even if they are unaware of what they lack. The Father always intends to give to those who ask, seek, and knock, just as Christ explained; the Father knows much more how to give good things to them that ask (3 Nephi 6:3). He will not merely give the thing requested. He will add to it such things as are needed to prepare them to be received. “This, then, is the process: We ask. Without a request, the laws governing things prevent bestowal. We can’t be given until first we ask. When we have asked, the Father will give. He will give every good gift needed, and not just what has been asked (3 Nephi 6:3). If there is (as is almost always the case) a gulf between what you have asked of Him and your capacity to receive it, then He will set about giving you every needful thing to enable you to receive. If you ask for strength, He will provide you with that experience necessary to develop the strength you seek. If you seek for patience you will be given Divinely ordained experiences by Him that are calculated to develop in you what you have sought. He knows you and knows what you need. Whatever is asked of Him, He will set about to ordain. It will come in a perfectly natural progression. It will occur in accordance with both natural and eternal law. If you fight against it, you prolong the time when you will receive what you have asked of Him. If you cooperate, it will flow unto you without compulsory means in a natural progression (T&C 139:6). If you do not ask, it will not be given. If you do not seek, you cannot possibly find. If you are unwilling to knock, the door will remain shut to you. But if you do these things, then you must cooperate with Him as He prepares you to receive what He will bestow. After asking, seeking, and knocking, then a process is invoked in which the Father prepares you to receive. You will receive as soon as He can prepare you by experience, by careful, thoughtful, ponderous thought through time and experiences adapted to give you what is asked. When, at last, you have been adequately prepared, you will have gone through exactly what every other soul before you has experienced to prepare them. There are no shortcuts. There are no exceptions. It is in accordance with laws ordained before the foundation of the world. Everyone who has obtained what you seek will have done so in conformity with the very same laws. The Father will work with you to prepare you to receive what you seek. This is a reaffirmation by Christ of the process and the Father’s role in bringing it to pass. If you trust Him, trust also His Father’s deliverance of you. You will be delivered. You will receive from Him who knows how to bestow every good gift what you have asked of Him.”3
1 Ten Parables (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2008), 93.
2 “3 Nephi 14:7–8,” Oct. 28, 2010, blog post.
3 “3 Nephi 14:9–11,” Oct. 28, 2010, blog post.