Learn to Pray Well
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Prayer can be summed up in the very word Jesus used in our Gospel passage today: “ASK”; A – ask, S – seek, K – knock. Jesus draws an analogy with a child asking his father for bread or fish saying that if we who are evil can be trusted to give our children what they ask for, how much more, God. To remind us that God is really a Father, Jesus taught us to begin our prayer with “Our Father who art in heaven.”
Our first reading today presents an example of one woman who prayed very well; Queen Esther. There was a difficult situation at hand, her people (the whole nation of Israel) were at the brink of extermination in a land of exile. A bill was about to be passed from the King’s palace to kill all the Israelites. She too would have been killed so she went to God.
Esther displayed great confidence in God. She was the wife of the King but at the same time, she did not rely on her position as wife, she did not think she could simply lure the king by her beauty or charm, she knew she was nothing without God. She prayed before embarking on a visit to the King.
The story of Esther teaches us that there is a difference between asking and complaining. Prayer is telling God your situation with faith in His ability to change things but to complain is to protest against God while expressing a total lack of faith in God’s ability to change the situation.
An example is the murmuring of the Israelites while in the wilderness of Sin. They said: “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3).
No matter the degree of anger, hopelessness or pain you may be feeling, count your blessings; remind yourself of what God has done for you in the past. Find something to be grateful for and give thanks for it. No wonder Jesus taught us to start our prayer with praises. “Hallowed by thy name.” (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2).
Secondly, there is a great difference between asking and commanding. Esther was the Queen of Israel yet before she opened her mouth to pray, she brought herself low by lying on the bare earth from morning till night. Do you want to pray well? Forget who you are, bring yourself down to the position of a beggar; ask, seek and knock.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, strengthen and deepen my prayer life. Amen.
Bible Study: Esther 14:1-14, Psalm 138 and Matthew 7:7-12).