“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to get you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
The friend in Jesus’ parable is persistent in asking for bread. He did not immediately give up when it seemed that the answer was no. He kept asking until his friend gave him what he needed. Just as the friend did not give up, we should be persistent as well. Instead of simply saying a Hail Mary or an Our Father and then calling it a day, it is important to persevere in prayer. For the intentions that are closest to your heart, remember to pray without ceasing. It has been said that Saint Monica prayed for the conversion of Saint Augustine for thirty years. She refused to give up when all signs seemed to indicate that her prayer went unheard! In reality, God heard her prayer and helped her son to become a great saint in heaven.
Just as a little child feels safe running to his father when he needs something, Jesus invites us to treat God the Father the same way. All fathers who love their children want what is best for them. God, our heavenly Father, is no different, except his love for his children is infinitely more perfect. He wants you to spend eternity with him in Heaven. He wants to give you the graces that you need to get there, if only you ask for them.
Jesus has made us a magnificent promise! “Ask and you will receive.” Although your prayers may not be answered exactly as you expect, God does promise his children something even better: the Holy Spirit! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are yours for the taking. All you have to do is ask and be persistent asking.
Jennifer Beckmann is an Administrative Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis.