Luke 11: 1-13
Ask for What You Need
One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
So he said, “When you pray, say,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.”
Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
“The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
“But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
“Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”
You told us to ask God our Father for what we need;
Help us to see beneath the surface of our lives; to appreciate and be thankful for what we have; and to know ourselves better, so we can work out what we’re missing, and ask God to fill the gaps in us.
Jesus told us how to pray 2000 years ago. He gave us the Lord’s prayer as an example, and he told us there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. Yet, so often, we do. Well, I do, and a lot of the people I talk to do as well. Perhaps it’s the fact that the prayer itself and this passage of scripture are so very familiar to us? Looking at this more often could help us to be more level-headed about prayer.
Jesus is comparing our Father in heaven with parents on earth who love their children and will give them what they can if they ask for it (and of course, if it will be good for them!). He knows the human tendency to bargain – it’s certainly what we do as children with our parents. I remember my 5-year-old son saying “If you take me to Legoland, I’ll be good for the rest of my life.” But we also do this with God: “If you get me through this, God, I’ll go to Mass every single day …”
Jesus warns us against that. He tells us God isn’t playing any games with us – we don’t have to make promises we probably can’t keep, or ask in a particular way in case we get the opposite. God isn’t cruel or tricky. We just have to be open and trust him. But asking and trusting can be difficult. What if it’s not what God has in mind for us, and we’re disappointed? What if we don’t understand how God answers our prayers, because we know that doesn’t always happen in the way we expect or hope.
Ask and you’ll get; knock and the door will be opened – to us cynical 21st century people, that’s just far too rosy, isn’t it? Life just can’t be like that. There must be a catch. But Jesus says God won’t give us a snake if we ask for a fish. He tells us to be direct, to ask for what we need.
But that’s the big question -do we really know just what it is we need? Isn’t Jesus telling us we have to spend a little time working out just what it is we really need, so we can be direct in our prayers? And that would mean talking it over with God first, beginning by asking him to let the Holy Spirit guide us so we can see what it is we truly need.
Salesian Communications Worker