This Sunday's Gospel tells of Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray, how to ask the Father for what we need, trusting his goodness. He says, "Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you."
We are to be persistent, like the neighbour with unexpected company who comes to the door begging for bread to share with his guests.
I used to ask for things like a parking spot when I needed it, for things to turn out the way I wanted them to. I used to ask for small miracles for my family, for children to get well when they were sick, for vehicles to run again when they quit working.
'Knock and the door will be opened for you.'
Many times it seemed my prayers were answered; I did see many little miracles, and I saw some bigger ones too.
I saw children get well, I saw help in times of trouble. There were people who came as answers to prayer and circumstances that seemed to me to have God's fingerprints on them.
There is another prayer, though, that I've prayed for 34 years now. It is something like: "Do whatever you have to do to get me to where you want me to be."
It doesn't make me feel warm and good inside; frankly it sometimes feels like standing on the edge of the cliff. At the same time, there is comfort in the assurance of God's presence in all that is to come, that he will be accomplishing what he wills in all of my life.
I think this prayer has changed some of the rest of my prayers. I don't ask for parking spots anymore - not because I think God doesn't care, or that he won't answer my prayer, but rather it doesn't fit very well with the prayer that says "Do with me what you will. I give myself to you."
I still pray for my children to be protected from all evil, for my friends and their children to be well. But it is easier to trust now that the difficulties they do experience are places of God's action; they are the arena where he accomplishes his purpose. I pray they will receive that.
Jesus said, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
First, we give ourselves to the holiness of God, trusting and hoping in his ways and his plan for us.
Then we ask for the needs of this day, knowing that all that we have is from God.
We ask for forgiveness, we forgive, we seek his hand on us, that he may lead us in the ways we should go. We ask, we search, we knock that the door to communion with God may be open to us. We persevere in surrender and obedience.
(Kathleen Giffin firstname.lastname@example.org)