Ask and It Will Be Given to You

Thursday of First Week of Lent

Es C: 12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7: 7-12

Dc. Larry Brockman

So, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.   For everyone that asks will receive.”    That sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? And perhaps some of you may even be skeptical from your own previous experience.  But Jesus always speaks the truth.  So, how do we resolve our experience with Jesus words?  How can we be sure our prayers will be answered in the future?   

You know, I recently led a Bible Study called “Lectio Prayer”.  It was based on an age-old practice called “Lectio Divina”.  This is a Latin term for prayerful reading of the holy scriptures.  The idea is that our prayer life is enhanced by using Lectio Divina.  You see, the author of that study made this interesting point.  He said that all prayer is initiated by God.  That’s right, all prayer is initiated by God!  So, that means we have to listen to God first to engage in prayer.    

When you think about it, we should all approach our prayer relationship with God like we approach a friendship.  A true friend listens to what we have to say; but to be a true friend, we have to listen to them as well.  And God’s agenda for us is always more perfect than anything we might conjure up for ourselves.  So, we should be open above all to what God has to say.

God sincerely wants to help us with our needs.  But there is a difference between our needs and our wants.  Take a lesson from Queen Esther in our first reading.  She is not praying for her wants, is she?  Rather, she is sincerely concerned and troubled by the terrible cunning and guile of the King’s assistant, who has tricked the King into a decree to kill all of the Jews.   

So, opening your prayer with a long list of requests and complaints doesn’t seem like the way to talk to a friend; and it is definitely not the way to talk to God.   We should start our prayer humbly asking God to talk to us and be prepared to listen.   

Now I am sure many of you recognize that God speaks to us in very subtle, gentle, and mysterious ways.  So, it may be easy to miss how God is calling you to pray.  But God certainly does speak to us through the scriptures, the word of God.  When we read scriptures, something usually leaps out at us too.  That is often God’s way of asking us to reflect more on it.  It may hold the key to our path forward.    

And God speaks to us in those nagging feelings we have that something is wrong in our lives or the lives of our loved ones.  Those feelings are God calling you to reflect and change something.  They are moments which are calling out for you to get into a quiet, undisturbed environment, and humbly open yourself up to what God has to say.  After you have listened to God, then it is time to share your concerns and feelings.   

But be careful of what you ask for.  We can all take a lesson from Queen Esther.  As I said before, she was not praying for her wants; but rather for an urgent need.  And Esther was asking for help- not intervention.  She wants God to put the right words in her mouth to persuade her husband.  Esther is concerned about a true need- and is only asking for the grace to act effectively. 

That’s what we should ask for.  Ask for strength, for the right words, for the wisdom to deal with the need that we have.   

There are many times that good people have been soured by what appears to be a rejection by God of their prayer- a sick friend or relative does not pull through; the job you sought did not come through; some immanent natural disaster like a hurricane sweeps over us despite our prayers.   

Well, God can work miracles; but usually God works in natural ways.  And we are part of that solution.  God works through us, as he used Esther to persuade the King.     

Sometimes God’s wisdom is mysterious and seems like out-of-the-box thinking.  Is that really so surprising?  God is so far beyond us that we cannot possibly see his plan or know his ways.  We need to trust God and hope that our prayers will be answered for our ultimate good.   

Perhaps it was that friend or relative’s time; perhaps there’s a better job for you; perhaps the natural disaster will put you in a place that’s far better in the eyes of God.  Perhaps God wants to close one door and open another in your life.   

We are God’s children now.  We always have the best interests in mind for our children when they ask for something, don’t we?  And sometimes they ask for something and the best answer is “no” or “not right now”.   God does the same with us.   

So “ask” but ask with all humility and sincerity, “And it will be given to you”. 

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