Word on Fire Bishop Robert Barron’s daily Lenten reflections. Today’s was a doozy. I do and don’t want to share.
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.”
Friends, today’s Gospel urges us to persist in prayer. The Lord wants us to ask with persistence, even stubbornness.
Now, we must not think of God as becoming exasperated by our prayer of petition, but the clear implication is that we will get what we want through persistence: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
How do we make sense of this? For me, the best explanation is offered by St. Augustine. He said that God doesn’t always give us immediately what we ask for, and in fact, he compels us to ask again and again. The Lord wants to stretch us, expanding our desire so as to receive the gift he desires to give us.
If we got everything we wanted, right away and without effort, we wouldn’t appreciate what we’ve received, and we wouldn’t really be capable of taking it in. It would be like pouring new wine into old, shrunken wineskins, resulting in a loss of both the skins and the wine.
So if the gift doesn’t come right away, don’t despair; rather, feel your very soul expanding in anticipation.
Reflect: Think of something you prayed about repeatedly for a very long time. When your prayer was answered, how had you changed from start to finish?
- Yes my soul has expanded from years of prayer without answer.
- If the prayer has been answered and it isn’t what I want how do I know? Should I keep praying? Or is it that I shouldn’t persist because I already have the answer?
- I feel like I have changed greatly “from start to finish” yet I haven’t yet reached the finish.
- It is hard to persist in prayer.
- Because recent answers aren’t what I’ve wanted it helps make me more appreciative of what I have been given.
- I feel like I persisted and was stubborn a very long time. So much so that I became exhausted by prayer. That isn’t right, is it? And yet “anticipation of answered prayer” going [seemingly] unanswered for so long leads to despair and then a fight against a hardening of one’s heart.
- How long is enough O God? I have stopped asking but I haven’t stopped believing it is possible.