Today’s Gospel, as we all heard at Mass this morning, was taken from Luke. We heard of the man who at night pounds on the door of his friend, asking for some bread to feed an unexpected guest, and his friend’s rebuff. Jesus then recites that famous verse, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” (Lk 11: 5-13)
Persistence in prayer coupled with simplicity in our pleading…. two pillars of the spiritual life in many ways.
We tend to forget that God already knows our needs; not that we shouldn’t articulate them when we are at prayer, but that he already knows. As Jesus says to us today, he will give us nothing less than the Holy Spirit when we ask, seek and knock at the door. He cannot be outdone in generosity, so he gives us himself whenever we pray. Our reception by God has little to do with our ability to explain things to him; thus a lot of words are unnecessary.
We hear in other places in the Gospels that we are not to rattle on “like the pagans” in our prayer. Our Holy Father Pope Francis recently reminded us of this also. I think these are reminders to us that we need not convince God of our need, or identify for him what those needs are for to do so is an effort to extract from God what he is more than willing to give. Extraction is not prayer. Being at the feet of God in a position of submission and recognition is.
Perseverance in prayer, I believe, requires simplicity. We must use very few words. Might I suggest to all of you that your personal prayer life include these three words, “Lord, help me!” or perhaps these two words, “Jesus, come!”
Lord, help us! Jesus, come!