In Matthew 7:7-12, Jesus gives us an offer we cannot refuse. Ask and it will be given to you, knock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find.
There is a story about an elderly man who lived alone in a house in the path of an approaching hurricane. A day before the hurricane a police officer knocks on the door and offers to take the man to a storm shelter. The man replies, “no thanks officer, God will save me from the hurricane.” The hurricane approaches and the streets begin to flood along with the first floor of the man’s house. The man retreats to the second floor of his house. The next day a couple in a row boat pass by the second floor bedroom window and offers to take the man to dry land. The man replies, “no thanks, I asked God to make the flood stop. I’ll be fine.” Over the course of the day the flood waters continue to rise and the man finds himself on the roof of the house to avoid drowning. A helicopter comes and lowers a platform to offer the man a flight to safety. The man yells, “no thanks, I prayed for God to save me, I’ll be just fine.” The man dies, goes to heaven, and asks God why his prayers were not answered. God replies, “I sent you a police officer, a couple in a row boat, and a helicopter.”
Who do we rely on for help in our time of need? This Gospel asks us to place our trust in God and to trust Him unconditionally. Yet, it also invites us to consider whether we are open to how God is answering prayers right here and right now in our midst.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the Christian faith is trusting that God knows and cares about our needs. This becomes especially true in times when our prayers do not seem to be answered in the timeframe or with the specific answer we were looking for.
Sometimes God says yes. Other times God says not yet. Still other times God says He has something else in mind.
“Which of you, if your child asks for a fish, would give him a snake,” Jesus asks. Sometimes God calms the storm, other times God calms His child.
Lent is a time when we are invited to pray, fast, and give alms in order to find freedom from self-reliant and other false sources of hope in order to recognize in a fuller way that the Lord alone is our sole source of hope in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in.
God knows our needs. Are we open to how he is working to meet them? For if we can trust that he is working right here and right now, perhaps we can have even greater confidence that God will deliver us from whatever has happened in our past, and whatever it is we may fear in our future.
Saint Augustine says, Longing is always a prayer, even when the tongue is silent. If you are longing without interruption, then you are always praying. When does our prayer sleep? Only when our desire cools (Sermon 80). May our desires for help in our times of need, for peace in times of distress, for forgiveness in times when we have sinner, for safety in times of danger, and for rest in times of stress propel us to keep asking, trusting always in the promise that if we ask, we will receive.
Each time we approach the Eucharist, we receive the real presence of Christ. The same God who promised us that if we ask, it will be given to us. The same God who has answered numerous prayers in the past. The same God who is going to meet our needs now and in the future.
Perhaps next time we are at Mass, we can bring those needs to God and ask for the grace to trust in all the promises Christ has made to be with us and care for us on this journey of life.
[Originally published in Br. Jeremy’s blog at AugustinianSpirituality.org]