Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you…ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” John 16:23
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel are both comforting and bewildering. Who among us can boast of having had all their prayers answered? Yet our Lord seems rather emphatic, and His words are plain in meaning.
I recently decided to take Jesus’ words to heart and made a concerted effort to ask God for the little things – a ride to church, a parking spot, fewer interruptions at work. More often than not, over a period of weeks, I have experienced delightful, even astonishing answers to my prayers. Not all my prayers were answered in the way I desired or expected, but some thing in each situation changed and made my crises more manageable.
A recent experience at work reminded me again to simply ask and receive.
It was pizza day at our elementary school and nine-year-old Peter walked up to the Principal with thirty cents in a Ziploc bag. “Could I have ten slices of pizza? It’s for my whole family.” Students at our school are all well aware that a pizza slice costs $3.00. “Cheryl,” asked my principal, doesn’t he know how to calculate the price of ten pizza slices? He is in Grade 4.”
I grinned and replied, “Maria, I think he just decided to use division instead of multiplication. So instead of thirty dollars, he is offering thirty cents for 10 slices.”
We both shook our heads and laughed. But we were both also painfully aware of the depth of need in our inner-city neighbourhood and that Peter’s Mum and Dad had four hungry young mouths to feed. Happily, by the end of pizza lunch, there were two whole 10-slice pizzas left.
“Let me drop off a pizza to the Di Buono family,” I offered. So, by 4:30 p.m. that evening, little Peter did have ten slices of pizza for his family, just as he had asked. Had he not expressed his desire, however, it is certain he would not have received his wish. Moreover, had he not offered us the completely inadequate thirty cents, without embarrassment, his request would not have resonated with the office staff as it did that afternoon. Similarly, God tells us to ask, so we can be partners with Him in bringing His kingdom to earth, despite our own littleness.
However, we are often tempted to desire and ask for the things of this world for our own selfish gain. James 4:3 reminds us, at these times, to check our own hearts. When you ask and do not receive, you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Let us resolve from now on, to ask selflessly, seeking wisdom, and earnestly desiring the spiritual gifts that we need to serve the kingdom of God, for He gives generously to all without finding fault. (James 1:5).
Some names changed to protect privacy.
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