Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive

Someone from the HCR forum recently asked the following question:
How would you correctly interpret Mt 7:7 and Jn 14:14???
Well, first of all, here are the passages in question:

Mt 7:7 Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Jn 14:14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

There are other similar passages:

Jas 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.

1 Jn 5:15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.

Now, a surface reading may cause someone to believe in a "name it-claim it" or "word of faith" teaching where God is just dying to give us all the riches in the world and if we ask for something, even the most outlandish thing, He will give it to us for the simple fact that we have faith that He will. But, other passages provide the key for the proper understanding of the passages previously cited:

Jas 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, 8 unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

Jas 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

1 Jn 3:21-22 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 Jn 5:14 And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

We see from this that we will receive what we ask of the Lord, but only if we meet certain prerequisites:
  1. We must ask in faith, without doubting
  2. We must not make a request that is rooted in the desires of sinful passions.
  3. We must ask out of a pure heart
  4. We must be striving to keep His commandments and to do what pleases Him.
  5. Our request must be in accordance with His will
This provides the necessary context that keeps us from thinking that Mt 7:7 and Jn 14:14 mean that God will just hand over the world to us if we ask Him.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

Maria Helena said...

"Ask and you shall receive". Jn 5:15 ...we have obtained the requests made of him. Does that mean that the Lord asks us for things (like being better Catholics) in exchange for our dreams and goals? I really wanted something once and when I prayed for it, I offered a sacrifice. My sacrifice was not going back to the non-productive life I used to live. Sometimes I feel guilty asking God to make my life better without offering Him something in return. Does this passage mean we don't have to come to Him with something in mind to offer him? Is it ok to simply to ask for things? Does God arrange for us to "pay Him back" with favors of witnessing or teaching and so forth? Are God's requests the 10 commandments?

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