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
The Lord’s Prayer is the revered, all-inclusive offering honored in all Christian denominations. I rather think the disciples were somewhat awed by its overwhelming simplicity. It’s almost as if they were inspired to break through the legalism of their Judaic formation in asking Jesus how to pray so imagine their surprise when they listened to their Teacher. “Is that all? Is that all we have to do and ask for? Bread? Forgiveness? Praise? Faith? “
“Praying simply? Never heard of it. You have to have regulations and a ritual format!”
Puzzled, they listen further. One can actually ‘pester’ God! After all, a person would get up in the middle of the night to feed his traveling friend and if our friend is God—who loves us immeasurably—why wouldn’t He take care of our temporal as well as spiritual needs? And why would He not provide the Holy Spirit to help us understand how our prayers are answered?
Over 70 years ago, in our Pittsburgh row house, my mother set her kitchen stove timer and at certain hours when it went off, she would drop to her knees in her tiny kitchen and pray a special novena prayer. My dad had lost his job and World War II was raging on. Sometime later my mother became ecstatic; we were moving to Cleveland, Ohio where dad had taken a new job. Years later I asked her what her intentions were in her prayer at that time and she said, for the end of World War II, and a job for your father.
My mother’s prayer had gone from desolation to consolation. I think she lived this and other forms of Ignatian prayer or concepts of prayer without knowing it. Praying simply, asking for bread, desiring to do God’s will surely elevates the soul from desolation to consolation.
—Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, S.C. is Executive Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Cleveland OH.
Help me out, my Jesus. I knock a lot; I ask for help and seek the light. But I’m impatient with myself and with others. Calm my heart; help me slow down; open me to the gift and grace you offer. Help me trust that, in your way and in your time, all will be well.
—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits