“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?
Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I’ve always struggled with this Gospel passage: “Ask and it will be given to you.” It’s easy to make a list of prayers I’ve made in my life that haven’t been answered in the way I would’ve liked.
The wonderful spiritual author Fr. Ronald Rolheiser offers two responses to this apparent disconnect in a 2009 column. First, he quotes the Scripture scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, who argued that in the New Testament, “prayer of petition is linked to concrete charitable action within the community.” If we pray for someone who is sick, for instance, we should also reach out to that person. We “need to be involved in helping answer our own prayers.” Second, Rolheiser quotes Karl Rahner, SJ, who wrote that to ask something in Jesus’ name does not mean just to ask for whatever our “divided heart…happens to hanker for.” Instead, asking in Jesus’ name means “entering into him, living by him, being one with him in love and faith.” If we do this, then we will ultimately find that our heart rests in God, even if it seems like God isn’t answering. And resting in God is “perfect joy.”
Give me the humility to ask you for what I need, plainly and directly.
Help me to trust in you even when I’m uncertain.
Energize me with compassion so I might cooperate with you in answering the world’s prayers for peace and justice.
Soften my heart so I might be more able to rest in you, where I might find perfect joy.
I pray this through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
—Mike Jordan LaskeyPlease share the Good Word with your friends!