Good morning, happy Thursday, and many blessings.
To cut to the chase, I’d like to ask two questions concerning today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:7-12): One, what does the word, it, refer to? In other words, when Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you,” what might you expect to receive? And two, what is it in your life? In other words, if you were to ask God for something, what would it be?
My hunch is this verse is misunderstood and misused because, on the surface, it sounds carte blanche: You can have whatever your heart desires; all you must do is ask.
There are two problems with this way of thinking: First, it piques our materialistic nature and plays on the fantasy that, if we had unlimited resources, we could have anything we wanted, as if, in having it, there’s that word again! -we’d be happy.
The second is that it leads to a boatload of disappointment. We’ve all asked for things that we didn’t get. Whether it’s asking Santa for a pony for Christmas; or asking the boss for a promotion or a raise; or applying for a scholarship to go to college, we all know what it’s like not to get what we asked for and be disappointed.
But, hey, that’s life. And as long as it has to do with other people, you can deal with it – they’re only human. But when God lets you down, it’s a different matter—especially after you’ve been led to believe that you can ask for anything and expect to receive it. When you ask God for something really important, and you ask sincerely, believing that God will come through, and he doesn’t—well, that’s a bitter pill to swallow: But, Lord, you promised!
This falls into the category of unanswered prayer—you ask God for something and, either God doesn’t hear you or God chooses not to give you what you asked for— or, a third possibility, the answer is, “Not now,” which, for the moment, is the same as, “No.”
Here’s what I’d like you to take from this reflection. First, Prayer-time is never wasted. Good things come in prayer even if they are maybe not what we asked for. Prayer opens the heart for good things from God. Be grateful at the end of prayer for time spent with the God of all goodness. Prayer time is always productive by making us people of more love. True prayer brings peace of mind and heart. It also brings the peace of knowing we are loved and of being called into following God.
And second, as long as the it in your life has to do with the things of this world, you’ll fall short. It’ll never be enough. Only as you seek to live in harmony with God and the whole of God’s creation will you be truly happy, for this is the promise: If you’re willing to seek God’s kingdom above all else, God will give you all you need for a full and abundant life. So, go ahead: Ask, and it will be given unto you.