Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, March 5

Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
—Matthew 7: 7-8

As a priest, I have many people come to me asking questions. Sometimes the questions are relatively simple, such as a question from a Bible story or a question about theology. Other times the questions are gripping and have life and death consequences. Every priest knows that both the light-hearted and the downcast come forward at some time to bare their souls in confidence and in privacy.

To a degree, everyone knows that there is no magical formula for what happens in our discussions. It’s not as though talking to a priest is a prescription for blissful life and problems go away suddenly.

But I am astounded by the number of people who believe that the difficulties of life can go away if, only if, the life of prayer could be deeper, more authentic, more spiritual. Somehow in our culture, we seem to have acquired the notion that prayer is answered when sincere, and that God acts swiftly for those who call upon him in need.

But when Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find,” I’m not so sure he means we will get what we desire. I believe Jesus was talking more about self-discovery, finding that part of each of us that is freed when we enter a relationship with God.

So many times the difficulties of life pull us down, and we cannot see clearly because of the things that enslave us. Disease, divorce, the stress of any kind interferes with our ability to pray and to be ourselves fully with God. But when we can let go and let God, as our 12-step friends tell us, we find a new freedom and liberty that opens us to the possibility that God is in charge.

The ask and be given, the seek and the find, the knock and the opening, all occur because we discover the freedom of letting God be in charge. It doesn’t mean that the difficulty will go away nor does it mean that life will be a series of happy events thereafter. But it does mean that God is in charge and that we will turn our lives over to something greater than ourselves.

Lead me, O God, to that place where I can start to understand Jesus’ words and begin to ask, seek and knock in new ways that invite your presence into my life.