It Works Both Ways

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

Even those who can't quote Scripture certainly know the verse about asking, seeking, and knocking. And everyone who quotes this text has certainly said to the Lord - or wanted to say: "Well, it didn't work for me! My prayer's still unanswered." Fine, but if we're going to get contractual about his, let's read the fine print and note the Jesus never said we're going to get exactly what we asked for. I know that winning the lottery might actually destroy my life, as it has the lives of a large number of big "winners". So the Lord gives us something else much better - and usually less obvious. Note too the difference between asking and asking, as we learn from Saint Monica, perhaps Chiristianity's most famous petitioner. That's the point of Jesus' parable comparing God to an unjust judge who grants the persistent widow her request just to get some peace. But all this parsing over technicalities misses the real surprise of Jesus' teaching: by asking us to ask, God sometimes wants to do our will. Our generous Father makes my desires his own and my plans his! Knowing this, shouldn't I be careful what I ask for - and imitate Christ by returning the favor: "Father, ask and it will be given to you"? We both can request and grant - and knock on open doors.

Reflection based on Matthew 7:7-12
Father Lawrence Donohoo, OP

Gracious Father, ask me to ask, teach me to ask aright,
remind me to knock, help me to open my door to let you in.

Today's suggested penance: Pray with special insistence for the most pressing petitions in your life.