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Ask and You Shall Receive

I wanted to write today about one of the simple yet powerful lessons that Jesus taught us. In the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 7:7 - 8), in the midst of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He says: “Ask and it will be given to you; 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.”

How often do we really take this prayer seriously and sincerely and in earnest ask Jesus for what is truly in our hearts? Or do we more casually tend to say “I wish….” or “God, I hope …” rather than relying on quiet, open and direct communication with Jesus? It’s my belief that Jesus always simply wants to spend time with us and hear what is inside of us, and in order to make that happen, it’s necessary to carve out that 1:1 time with Him. It’s during that calm, dedicated and regular time that we can ask, seek and knock for what is important to us. This is when we can truly pour out ourselves to Jesus. Sometimes it’s in a calm conversation, other times through tears or pleas or cries. No matter how the words come out, we can really believe that Jesus hears us.

One of the times in my life that I asked Jesus in a very direct and specific manner for particular outcomes was when I was pregnant with my son Seamus. I had found out when he was four months in utero that he had a chromosomal condition called Trisomy 18, and his chances of going full term or being born alive were very, very low. Nonetheless, I did everything I could to take care of him while he was alive and growing inside of me. Needless to say, this was a time of very intense prayer for me and a pivotal period when I drew so close to Jesus I felt we were walking in lockstep every moment of every day. Preparing for the simultaneous birth and death of my baby was one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching experiences of my life.

There were four very specific “asks” I had of Jesus when the time came for Seamus to be born: I wanted him to go full term, to go into labor naturally, to hold him and for him to be baptized. Lo and behold, I was graced with all four of those requests!! My dear, beloved Jesus and Seamus answered those prayers for me. I went into labor at home and though he was born still, it was 10 days past his due date, after my water broke at home. We baptized him in my family’s baptismal gown and I got to hold him, as he spent 24 hours with me in the hospital room before the funeral home came to pick him up and prepare him for his burial.

This was the most sad and devastating time for me and at the same time my heart was rejoicing because I had asked Jesus for what I desired and He gave it to me freely, lovingly and joyfully. These answered prayers were just some of the many silver linings of Seamus’ brief time on earth.

When was the last time you have spent some fervent time with Jesus and asked, sought or knocked for what is on your heart?

Ellen Kelly is a spiritual director. She earned a MTS from The Jesuit School of Theology

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