Thursday of the First Week in Lent
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8; Matthew 7:7-12
How often have we heard today’s Gospel passage and said to ourselves, “God didn’t give me what I asked for. He did not answer my prayer for (fill in the blank).” When we are discouraged in this way, remember that Jesus did not just say, “Ask and it will be given to you,” as if God is a supernatural vending machine. Jesus taught us to add to our asking, “Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In our asking, we also seek and knock.
We seek God’s will because God is omniscient, he knows everything, while we only know the events of the past and the present. And often our understanding of past and present events is biased or clouded by our sinful inclinations. God sees the past present and future perfectly, and all at once, seeing further and deeper than we can in our finite and limited understanding of things.
Often our prayers are not answered because we neglect to seek God’s will. We ask for things we want without seeking to know what God wants for us. An answer to prayer isn’t necessarily found in us getting something we are asking for. An answer might come in a revelation that something other than what we think we want is what is ultimately best for us.
Likewise, when we knock, we act with confident expectation that our request will be welcomed by God and will be answered, although quite likely not in the way we might expect. Knocking also requires action on our part. We have to take the necessary steps to lay the groundwork for an answered prayer. We can’t just passively stand by and expect that God is going to wave his magic wand and make things happen. We must knock by taking action to do our part to bring about that which we are asking for.
God’s answer to our prayers may take a while because the circumstances of our request may demand it, or we may first need some sort of healing to be able to hear his answer. Something that seems so urgent to us may not be what is really needed now. Jesus is telling us to remain faithful, watchful, and persevering, even when we are tempted by our circumstances to believe that God is not concerned about our request.
In today’s teaching on prayer, Jesus asks “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?” When we’re asking for something and losing our patience, or seeking and feeling lost, or knocking but losing hope, Jesus reminds us to consider the nature of our Father. God has only our best interests at heart.
Our Lord is all good and all loving. It can be hard to remember this when life’s trials weigh us down. This is because our understanding of God has been corrupted by original sin. As we build a relationship with God in prayer, our faith can reassure us of his goodness and we can more readily believe that he desires to answer our prayers according to what is best for us.
So when we get discouraged, wondering if God is acting in our lives, remember that so many spiritual writers, mystics, and saints recommend that we “double down” on our prayer, on our fasting, and on our other devotions. This is the asking, seeking, and knocking that Jesus teaches us.
Today and throughout this season of Lent let us always remember that we have a good Father who promises to give us precisely what we need, in his time and in the way that will be best for us.
May we grow in faith so that we never doubt God’s love for us. May we never be discouraged when our prayers are not answered immediately. God surely hears our prayers and he will certainly answer them if only we persistently Ask, Seek, and Knock (A.S.K.). Amen? Amen!