October 8, 2015 – Thursday in the Eighteenth Week after Trinity

Readings: Malachi 3:13-4:2a; Luke 11:5-13

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Luke 11:9, RSV-CE

Today’s Gospel reading must be read as a whole. Otherwise, “ask, and it will be given you” would be understood incorrectly. (For instance, I have asked for a Ferrari many times, but I still don’t have one.) In addition, if we do not read the entire passage we might think that if we persistently annoy God enough with our prayers then He will give us what we want, like the importunate friend in the Gospel.

On the other hand, persistence in prayer is necessary; not because our prayer changes God’s mind, but because it changes us. As St. John Vianney said, “Prayer is union with God.” However, our persistence must take the form of always seeking that which we truly need from God, with the understanding that all we need comes to us from Him. Far too often, though, we continue to ask for a stone, instead of the bread that God desires to give us. But, the more we become transformed into the image of Christ, the more natural it will become for us to ask for what is in accord with the will of God.

At the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that God will give to us His Holy Spirit. And God gives us the Spirit because, as St. Paul tells us, “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26b) and “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27b)

So yes, ask and you will receive, but remember that you will receive based upon what you truly need, not what you think you need.