Last week, during our family’s morning scripture study, I was reviewing with my children some highlights from President Nelson’s January Liahona article called, Grow into the Principle of Revelation. In the article, Pres. Nelson quotes the Lord from D&C 88:63 which says, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
As I read that verse, I felt prompted that this was a good time to share with the kids that the Lord was not repeating himself over and over again, expressing the same thought in three different ways. But rather, through the order of the verbs, the Savior was teaching how to draw near to God and illustrating a progressively more intimate relationship we can have with God. I made an illustration on our white board for the kids that was something like the one attached to this article and I explained the following:
- “Seek me diligently and ye shall find me.” This indicates a long-distance relationship. If we seek diligently, we will find God, though it may be at a distance.
- “Ask, and ye shall receive.” The two verbs here, ask and receive, are both indicative of a more intimate relationship. While seeking can be one way, asking is a two-way verbal communication with God. And receiving indicates God has physically given you something, which is a much closer relationship than seeing from afar.
- “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” To knock and have something opened up unto us indicates the potential for the most intimate relationship of the three. It implies passing through a door and entering into God’s presence and being one with God—the closest relationship of all.
As I studied this more, I realized most scriptures that teach this principle have the verbs in a slightly different order: they have ask first, seek second, and knock third. For example, see Matt 7:7 and 3 Nephi 14:7, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Why the difference exists, I don’t know, but the lesson of a progressively more intimate relationship with God still works there. To ask and receive an answer is a long-distance verbal communication relationship. To seek and then find something, however, is more than just verbal communication—it indicates a more physically close relationship that involves seeing in addition to hearing. But again, and perhaps most importantly, to knock and have something opened up unto us indicates the potential for the most intimate relationship, passing through the door, being with God, and having oneness with Him.