“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
Prayer can be summed up in the very word Jesus used in our Gospel passage today: “ASK”; A – ask, S – seek, K – knock. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks, finds and to him who knocks it will be opened. In this way, Jesus highlights the importance of faith and trust when we pray.
Believe that you will get what you ask for even before you start praying. Jesus draws an analogy with a child asking his father for bread or fish saying that if we who are evil can be trusted to give our children what they ask for, how much more, God. To remind us that God is really a Father, Jesus taught us to begin our prayer with “Our Father who art in heaven.”
Our first reading today presents an example of one woman who prayed very well; Queen Esther. There was a difficult thanks situation at hand; her people (the whole nation of Israel was exiled at this time to a foreign land) were on the brink of extermination. A bill was about to be passed from the King’s palace to kill all the Israelites. She too would have been killed so she went to God.
Esther displayed great confidence in God. She was the wife of the King but at the same time, she did not rely on her position as wife, she did not think she could simply lure the king by her beauty or charm, she knew she was nothing without God. She prayed before embarking on a visit to the King.
The prayer of Esther teaches us that there is a difference between asking and complaining. While asking is done with a disposition of love and humility towards God, complaining is expressing our bitterness toward God without faith in His ability to grant our requests. Prayer is always optimistic but complaining is highly pessimistic.
God was angry with the Israelites in the desert because they complained instead of praying. The Israelites allowed their hunger to get into them so much so that they said, they wished they had died at the hands of the Egyptians. They quickly forgot what God had done for them in the past. When we pray, it is important to remind ourselves of what God has done, Jesus taught us to start our prayer with praise. In this way, we would not be tempted to relapse into mere complaining.
Secondly, there is a great difference between asking and commanding. Esther was the Queen of Israel yet before she opened her mouth to pray, she brought herself low by lying on the bare earth from morning till night. Do you want to pray well? Forget who you are, bring yourself down to the position of a beggar; ask, seek, and knock.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, strengthen and deepen my prayer life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Esther 4:17, Ps. 138:1-3,7-8, Matthew 7:7-12).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu