Thursday, March 1, 2012

We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties

We must speak to God as a friend speaks to his friend, servant to his master; now asking some favor, now acknowledging our faults, and communicating to Him all that concerns us, our thoughts, our fears, our projects, our desires, and in all things seeking His counsel.--St. Ignatius of Loyola

Gospel text (Mt 7:7-12):
Jesus said to his disciples:
"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; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets."

Today, Jesus reminds us of the need and power of prayer. We cannot understand our Christian life without being related to God, and in this relation, prayer takes a central place. While we live in this world, we Christians find ourselves on a pilgrimage road, but our prayer gets us closer to God and opens up the door of His immense love.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that "ask and it will be given to you." To my youthful ears this made it seem as though God were the ultimate giver of presents. New bike? Just ask. Those really cool tennis shoes? Right there on request.

Of course, this happy view bumps up against the messy realities of life. For when our prayers seemingly go unanswered we sometimes fail to see God's concern for us, or may even feel God does not love us. About two years ago my aunt was ill with cancer. To say that I "asked" God to heal her would be a monumental understatement. I prayed, begged and lit candles, but God decided to take her. Any believer who has undergone a family tragedy has certainly had a similar experience.

So how do we reconcile this reality with the Gospel?

I think a lot of it has to do with what is really meant by "ask." In an important way, we don't really know what we are asking for. Really about all we have the capacity to ask for is to be accepted as children of God. And God does accept us as His own despite our sins, failings and shortcomings.

All we have to do is ask

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