Wednesday in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 7:7-12; Luke 6:31

According to His Gracious Will

In this portion of the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus again speaks of prayer – we might even suggest that it expounds on that portion of the “Lord’s Prayer” which states, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  These are wonderful words and true words.  Our God and Father knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8), but He still desires that we humble ourselves to ask and confess our need of Him.  By seeking, we show that we are not lazy but striving to understand, pursuing the will of God.  By knocking, we exhibit persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8).  And then Jesus shows why we should be confident when we pray by comparing our heavenly Father to earthly parents: What father would give his son a stone if he asked for bread?  What mother would give her daughter a scorpion if she asked for fish?  These are rhetorical questions to which the answer is obvious: If we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children, then how much more will our heavenly Father give His children!  In sum, there is no comparison.  God gives good gifts every day.  Are we grateful for them?

Now, as with all Scripture, this can be twisted, and many have done so.  No, God is not so kind as to give you a ’53 Corvette just because you ask (that would be my choice).  This is why we must always weigh Scripture with Scripture.  The Apostle John tells us, “And this is the confidence we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).  Did you hear that? … according to his will.  No, we are not allowed to ask for just anything.  And I confess, it is often hard to know what God’s will is in a particular situation.  We may ask that God would heal a person, and that prayer not receive the answer we were looking for.  In such times, we must trust God and bow before His inscrutable will.  Anyway, we know that God is always good all the time, and that God works all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The passage ends with “The Golden Rule”: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” and then Jesus adds, “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  This same rule could be summarized as “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the way we should live; this is the way we should pray.

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