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Beyond Asking

May 3, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

May 3, 2015
1 John 3:18-24; John 15:9-17
Fr. George Smiga

We are religious people, and so we know that we should pray. And we do. We come together in this place to give praise and thanks to God for all God has done for us. But our tradition tells us that we should pray not only to praise and thank God but also to ask God for what we want and what we need. Why should we do this? In today’s gospel Jesus says, “Ask for whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” Is that why we pray—because God will give us whatever we want? It has to be more complex than that. Go ahead, pray to God for a new Cadillac, and see how soon it arrives.

Jesus tells us to ask for what we want because it begins a conversation. And conversations have the potential to move us beyond asking. Have you ever really wanted something from someone, from your husband, from your mother, from your boss? You begin a conversation to ask for it. Of course it is possible the conversation stays on the level of asking, asserting all the whys and wherefores about this and that. But once a conversation begins, it has the potential of moving from asking to listening. We may open ourselves to listen to the other person and how they respond to your request.

And once we start listening, the conversation can go even deeper. It can move from listening to hearing. Hearing is when we appreciate the other person with whom we speak. Hearing is our willingness to take in that person’s wisdom, insight, and love. And when we really hear another person in a conversation, that opens up new possibilities and we sometimes end up asking in a different way. So asking can lead to listening, and listening can bring us to hear the other person. That is why Jesus tells us that we are to ask in prayer, because the person to whom we speak in prayer is God, and God is ultimate wisdom and insight and love. When we are able to truly hear God, then our asking becomes clearer and deeper. As today’s second reading says: God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. What value there is then in hearing what God has to say!

We ask so that we might listen and thereby hear. But it all begins with asking. So do not be afraid to ask God for what you want and need. Ask God for a job or for a successful heart operation. Ask God to help your son who has lost his way or a friend who is addicted to drugs. Ask God for patience or for courage to face your upcoming death.  Ask God for all these things.

But don’t simply ask. Listen and then wait to hear. Because if you hear the person to whom you pray, you will find yourself beyond asking. Then you will have the peace and confidence that comes from encountering the God who loves you.

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