Ask, and You Shall Receive…

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“Ask, and you will receive; seek and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to him who knocks.” – Matthew 7:7-8

There are two very powerful ideas being expressed in this passage from Matthew’s gospel: hope and humility. We are struck at first by the immense hope that these words imply. Jesus is telling us to simply ask him, to seek him, to knock at the door of his sacred heart and he will answer, make himself present and known to us, and that he will open the doors of forgiveness and salvation to us. How can we not but be overwhelmed with joy hearing these words so full of generosity, love and hospitality. The verbs used here are clean, simple, active verbs. They imply simple, but very potent actions. Ask. Seek. Knock. There is nothing passive here. They show us that hope is not passive either. Hope is nothing without acting upon it in meaningful ways. Asking. Seeking. Knocking. These are the actions of hope. Hope is the driving force behind these words. Jesus is telling us here that our faith in him, our hope in him, must be active, not passive. He is telling us that our hope in him will be satisfied, if we act upon it.

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But there is another idea challenging us here too. How do we ask? How do we seek? How do we knock? If we ask; if we seek; if we knock out of some sense of entitlement, we will not receive, we will not find, and the door willl not be opened to us. This is surely true in our relationships with others in this life, but it is even more true in our relationship with God. It is only when we ask, when we seek, when we knock in true humility, in the recognition that we are nothing without the generous love and grace of God, that we will receive, find and have the door opened to us. “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) Humility is the foundation of prayer. It is only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” (Romans 8:26) are we ready and able to “receive” freely the gift of prayer. As St. Augustine says, “Man is a beggar before God.”

It is when our motivation in prayer is the theological virtue of hope, and when our attitude in prayer is the practical virtue of humility, that our souls will be ready to receive, to find, and to gain entrance into the fullness of the Christian life in this world. Let us pray unceasingly, then, in hope and humility, for in this we can know and trust that Jesus will answer all of our deepest needs, and he will give us the graces we need to know, to love and to serve him in this world, so that we can be with him forever in the next. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.