And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.“
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” [Luke 11:9]
There is a crisis of faith for many Christians today. The crisis centers around the notion that God does not grant our wishes the way Scripture so clearly tells us He does. How can an all-powerful God, perfect in every way, already having a plan set in motion, respond to my needs as if He were at my beck and call?
And if He did choose to grant wishes, why must an all-knowing God be asked? Doesn’t God know what I want whether I ask Him or not? How can Scripture offer us such a primitive understanding of God, only to disappoint us when we find out that God is nothing like the Tooth Fairy?
The apparent conclusion is that either God does not exist or scripture describes Him wrongly. In despair, we wonder if, perhaps, both options are true. The answer to this dilemma is twofold: God will not change His course in response to our prayer, and scripture is inerrant.
First, God has created a world already knowing what we would ask for. He created this world the way that it was, is and will be – with the knowledge of your prayer in mind. God has already listened to the faithful prayer you will make tomorrow, and He already knew you would foolishly neglect to pray for something else. The imperative to pray remains, despite God’s unchanging existence.
The second and more important point is that found in scripture is the promise not to give whatever we ask, but the promise to give His Holy Spirit if we ask! Luke 11:13 makes no promise to award any frivolous gift in response to prayer, but rather to ensure the Holy Spirit is with those of us who faithfully ask for it. To ask for the Holy Spirit is to put yourself among the faithful to whom the Holy Spirit is promised.
Let us pray that God’s Holy Spirit leads us to prayer and inspires us to more faith, hope and love: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth.”
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
When we face a difficult conversation, send forth your Spirit.
When we are confused and need guidance, send forth your Spirit.
When we are hurt by those closet to us, send forth your Spirit.
When we experience blessings in our day, send forth you Spirit.
When we remember family and friends in prayer, send forth your Spirit.
When we say good-bye to harmful behaviors and embrace life giving practices, send forth your Spirit.
When we laugh and share good times with others, send forth your Spirit.
When we suffer from sickness or those we love are in ill-health, send forth your Spirit.
When we seek employment or a change in jobs, send forth your Spirit.
And when we seek your influence and your comfort, send forth your Spirit.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team