This Sunday's Gospel is about prayer. In Luke's version, Jesus' disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. He teaches them what we call the Lord's Prayer or the Our Father. But then comes the kicker: He tells them to ASK for what they want. And, He seems to say that if we don't get what we are asking for, we should KEEP ASKING.
This touches on one of my spiritual tender spots.
As a kid I was, I think, trained not to ask for things. In fact my Mom, in her special way, advised me to keep my expectations low, so that if things turned out well, I'd be so glad! I remember, too, visiting former neighbors at their apartment one Sunday after Mass. The old couple had a big bowl of candies on the coffee table, and kept offering them to me- and I accepted every one! I was told on the way home that when people offer things to me, I should say no, thank you. Later, visiting our uncle who loved to make things out of wood (like little outhouses...!) I was scolded for turning down his offer of an outhouse, because it hurt his feelings. I remember clearly being VERY confused about this. Don't ask for things, don't accept things when they're offered, but then again, sometimes, do.
I also remember from my childhood hearing a sermon that really clicked with me. The priest said that we are not to pray to God and ask for things like we ask Santa for Christmas presents. He told us to pray "Thy will be done." It sounded right to me, and that's how I have prayed for many many years.
But in Sunday's Gospel, in Luke's version, that line of the prayer is not included! Jesus just advises us to ask for what we want from God, or at least for what we need, and not to quit until we know we have been heard. It seems to go against everything I've been taught about asking.
In a way, I want to ask God. I want God to know what I want, need, wonder about- and I want answers from God. But... I can't imagine that my prayer is going to change God's mind. So, if God already knows what we need (which is what Matthew's Gospel says in introducing his version of the Lord's Prayer) then why bother?
But Jesus says ASK, and ASK is my word of the year, so... I'm gonna start asking.