“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find ..." (Matthew 7:7-8)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

What is Jesus suggesting that we 'seek'?

Some would have us believe that Jesus is referring to anything we want, be it money, a new job, a new car or our football team to win. Is Jesus saying that we should seek materialism?

Why would Jesus suggest his students ask for that which he opposes they focus upon:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Matt. 6:25)
If Jesus doesn't want his students to focus on materialism, why would he then want them to seek materialistic things?

Rather, the "it" Jesus is referring to is the subject of his teachings:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
What is required in order to love someone? Can we love someone who we don't know?

Therefore, what Jesus is suggesting his students ask for is to come to know the Supreme Being.

What is 'the door' Jesus is referring to?

Jesus says that if we ask, and seek, and knock - a metaphor - the door will be opened. What is the door?

The "door" is the path to return to our loving relationship with God.

Even though we rejected Him and thus came to this physical universe to escape Him, He still wants us back. He Himself gave us the freedom to choose to love Him or not. He thus has complete understanding and forgiveness for those who fell away from Him.

Therefore, as soon as we sincerely want to return to Him, He will help guide us back to Him. He will allow us to get to know Him again.

But we must ask first. He doesn't want to barge into our lives. He wants us to make the choice to return to Him. This is what love is about.

And yes, - He will forgive us of our envy and our greed - and He will heal our self-centeredness. This is because He is strong, tolerant, and gentle by nature.

But we must ask first. We must want Him back in our lives.

What should we 'ask' for?

Jesus is suggesting that what we ask for will be given to us. Does this mean that we should ask for materialistic things? Should we be asking for money? Should we be asking for fame?

Asking for such things assumes the Supreme Being is some sort of genie that will grant us whatever we want: As though God is our servant.

What Jesus is requesting we ask for is outlined in the Lord's Prayer, and his prayer on Mount Olives (Gethsemane):
1) Forgiveness:
"Forgive our debts [or sins] as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)

2) Spiritual fulfillment:
"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:12)
As discussed with that verse, Jesus is not suggesting we ask for physical food. He is recommending that we ask God for the food of our soul. The essence of that food is love for God and loving service to God:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
3) Accordingly, doing God's will: 
Your kingdom come, Your will be done ...” (Matthew 6:10)
Jesus also himself prayed for this on Mount Olives:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
God has feelings. When we have acted against His will and we reject Him, He is certainly hurt by that, just as any loving friend would be. Any loving friend would feel pain when the one they love decides to leave.

For this reason, we cannot just ask to return to Him on a whim. We must be serious. We must be sincere about our desire to return. It must not be a matter of making a show of religiousness to impress others.

For these reasons He tests us. When a person approaches God and asks for forgiveness, and sincerely asks to come home, the door will be opened, certainly. But it will also come with a number of trials and tests to not only measure our sincerity but to make us stronger and more sincere in our desire to come home to Him.

Consider, for example, if a person leaves a loving wife or husband to be with another. For many years they were gone, and then suddenly they decide they want to get back together with the former spouse. Does the former spouse take them back just like that - immediately? 

Certainly, if the former spouse still loves them they would let them back into their lives. However, this would likely not be immediate. First, the returning spouse would have to prove to them (and themselves) that they are back for good. They would have to illustrate to the former spouse (and themselves) that they haven’t just come back on a whim, just to leave again.

In the same way, God sets up various tests for those who request to return to Him. He wants us back, but He also wants us to be serious about it. He wants us to come back because we want to be with Him. He doesn't want us to come back just because we couldn't get what we wanted - be it money or fame or whatever - when we were ignoring Him. He doesn't want us to return just because we want to get saved. He wants us to return to Him with love and sincerity in our hearts.

It is because of His love that He will open the door and let us back into His life - even if we initially are doing it for the wrong reasons. And once we start the journey, He will guide us (and test us) to increase our sincerity, faith, and natural love for Him.

These points illustrate the character of a truly loving, merciful and wise God.