“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
In last Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus likens our relationship with God to that of a Father who gives good things to his children. He promises that if we earnestly ask, seek and knock, the Father will give us whatever we need. While reflecting on this Gospel, I realized that sometimes, I don’t know what to ask for, where to look, and how to recognize when my prayer has been answered. It’s no surprise to me that God would answer in a way that I don’t expect; after all, God knows what is best for me. So, how can I make myself more aware of and receptive to God’s bounteous gifts?
1. Expect the unexpected.
Sometimes little miracles show up at just the right time to renew our faith. Other times, graces come in the form of great suffering, doubt, and even temptation. Consider the lamentation of Saint Paul: three times he asked God to remove the “thorn in his flesh,” but God had another plan: “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Not all of our prayers will be answered exactly the way we want them, and thank God for that! Let us rejoice whether He sends us suffering or relief, uniting ourselves to the Heart who suffered most for our sake.
2. Entrust Everything.
When I was growing up, I had a Protestant family friend who prayed before everything. Everything. She prayed for a good parking spot, she thanked God for relieving her of indigestion… I wondered whether God wanted to be bothered with those menial concerns. St. Peter tells us to “cast all our cares on the Lord, for He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7). No request is too big or too small for God, and He’s always happy to hear from us! Be honest with God and with yourself, be specific in your requests to God, and don’t limit your trust in He who makes all things new! Let us entrust to God all our needs, desires, doubts, and sufferings, allowing Him to respond as it pleases Him.
3. Shut up and LISTEN.
As with any successful relationship, it is absolutely essential to communicate—by speaking and listening. While it is good for us to share with God our needs and thanksgiving, we must also consistently listen with an open heart. We miss out on getting to know the Best Person when we fail to see Him as an individual with a will, an intellect, and a love. God must have a vast personality, the culmination of everything good that we see in ourselves and our neighbours. Let us never fool ourselves into thinking that we fully know God. Rather, let us openly communicate with God throughout our day, and take time to sit in silence with Him.
Finally, let us ask God to make us the answer to others’ prayers, when we can. Let us sow trust, joy and peace in our own lives and in the lives of each person that we encounter. In this world filled with cynicism, despondence and division, let us ask God to ignite our hearts with the purifying fire of His love.
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