Gospel Reflections » International

“Ask and you will receive”

February 21, 2013

“Ask and you shall receive” is a line from the ‘Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew’s Gospel, part of a collection of sayings of Jesus on the behaviour and attitude expected of his disciples. This passage refers to a teaching on prayer, particularly the prayer of petition.

Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus encourages his disciples to pray the prayer of petition, to ask for what they need, and to persist in praying until they get it.

“Ask-receive”, “seek-find” “knock-be opened” is the three-fold way in which the prayer of petition is presented. The disciple is urged to present his desires before God, who as a loving Father, is concerned about the needs of his children.

In fact, the metaphor of ‘Father’ is present throughout: even imperfect fathers love their children in their own way, and want to give them what they ask for. How much more, says Jesus, will not your heavenly Father, who knows what you need even before you ask for it.

Then why are there unanswered prayers? asks the believer. The answer is, there are no unanswered prayers.

If we consider praying as a transaction, like getting something from the shop, then certainly we may not always get what we demand. Shopping means that we’re in control, but prayer is not like that.

But if prayer is a relationship, then the act of relating to God in prayer tells us something not just about God, but also about ourselves. To approach God is to enter into that mysterious, unpredictable, uncontrollable part of ourselves, to enter into “the truth of our life”. And there are always answers here, even to questions we haven’t been asking.