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Jesus gives us another lesson on prayer. I think it connects well to our first reading from the Book of Esther.
Queen Esther, a Jew, was a member of a non-Jewish court. The story is only a few chapters long and I recommend you read the Book of Esther for yourself. In any case, Queen Esther’s people, the Jews in exile, are all in danger of being killed by an evil man. She is about to approach the king against royal protocol and may be killed herself. So, we read, “Queen Ester, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD.” She laid down prostrate on the ground and begged of God, “Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand . . . Save us from our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”
This is not a prayer that is routine. It is a prayer that comes full-throated from the heart of a woman in great distress.
From time to time, we find ourselves in desperate situations and the intensity of our prayer comes from the belly; from the depths of our heart we cry unto God.
But, at other times, our prayer is shallow and mechanical. We must resist this tendency and speak to God from our heart, believing that we are always heard.
So, Jesus gives us the famous statement on prayer. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
But this and every prayer must not come as a perfunctory request of an unengaged soul, but from a place where we know that all good things come to us as a gift from God who hears us and wants only what is best for us, even if it sometimes means saying “No” to us.
The person who asks should be anxious for an answer. The person who knocks, should be restless until the door to be opened. And the person who seeks, should be eager to find. All of this comes from a heart that implores God for his grace, his blessing, his presence.