In the part of the Sermon on the Mount read as today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that perseverance in prayer is important. Keep on asking, keep on searching, and keep on knocking. Keep asking and that for which you seek will become clearer. Keep searching and the way to find what you seek will be understood. Keep knocking and the door through which you can find the goal of your search will be opened for you.
Those who continue to ask will be directed to finding their answer. Those who continue to search will find the answer they need. Those who continue to knock will find the door to their goal opened for them.
Jesus then put a parable for parents, a question about how clearly they understood what was asked of them by their children. Is this parable really only for parents and their children? As a way of making the goals of prayer clearer Jesus asked if anyone whose child asked for bread would give that child a stone, or if asked for a fish would give a serpent. Only an idiot or a mean person would do that!
If we, who fall far short of the perfection of God, can see that God will not answer yes to prayer that is not consistent with God’s will, then when we pray our own prayers should be kept in line with what we understand God’s will to be. As our understanding of how to pray, and what to ask God in our prayers grows, we should also grow in the knowledge that God knows better than we do what we need.
Several of the Collects appointed in the Prayer Book to use after the Prayers of the People point out that God indeed knows our needs, even before we ask. (Cf. BCP pp. 394-5)
Following the example of those Collects, and Jesus’ teachings on prayer in today’s Gospel, we can learn to pray in this way: First we shouldask for clarity, then we can search for a proper goal for our prayer, and finally we can knock at the door of heaven to be shown the way of implementing that prayer.
Has perseverance in prayer helped you to find clear goals for your prayer and to realize those goals?
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