I don’t take time to read the Bible as often as I should. Thank God for a four-year-old who provides me with vivid lessons to accompany the verses and stories committed to memory simply from decades of Mass attendance.
My four-year-old daughter has been extremely articulate from a very young age, but that didn’t stop her from devolving into an inarticulate, whiny hot mess recently.
She simply wanted a peacock feather on lying out of her reach on the dining room table. (Don’t ask. I’m not certain where it came from or why it was there. Last I checked, we had no peacock.)
Knowing she has been quite capable of making such a simple request for years, I indulged her by reminding her she needed only ask. I even went so far as to state a request she could simply repeat. “Would you hand me that feather, please?”
Stubborn child she is, she refused to ask.
Stubborn parent I am, I refused to hand it to her.
Had she asked, I would have happily given it to her. Instead, she went away sad, no peacock feather in hand.
If you’ve never darkened the door of a church, you are probably still familiar with Matthew 7:7: Ask and you shall receive.
Here is the longer passage from which it is taken, verses 7-11:
“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.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”
In my younger days, I would hear that verse and shrug it off. We all know God doesn’t answer every request as we would wish. Otherwise, the world would be populated with skinny, happy, healthy, rich, beautiful people. God is omnipotent, and He answers as He chooses. As I matured, I understood that He answers prayer that are in accord with His will, those that are for our ultimate good.
But then, why ask in the first place? He is not only omnipotent, but omniscient. Must I ask when He knows all of my needs? Long before I know them, if ever I do.
If my children don’t contribute to my holiness by increasing my patience and reducing my selfishness, there is yet another way they’ve greased the skids for my becoming a better person.
Like nothing else, parenthood has allowed me to understand, to a limited degree, the mind of the Father.
I wanted my daughter to ask for that peacock feather. I could see that she desired it, and it would make her happy. There was no harm in it for her, no danger, but as it was not necessary for her to have, I had not extended it to her. She needed only ask, and I would have happily given it to her. Even delighted in the fun she’d have with it, admiring its beauty, feeling its fine feathers slide beneath her fingertips, maybe tickling her chin.
But she did not ask.
She went away sad.
That is why I must ask. God wants me to come to Him, to ask, so that he can give me good things. So that He can delight in the pleasure they give me.
Yes, He knows my needs. No, He will not, like a genie, grant my every wish. But, yes, He wants to hear my desires – even if they are insignificant – because He loves me and wants to give me good things.
I’m not great at asking. I prefer to do things for myself. I don’t like imposing on others. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s a particular challenge when it comes to everything from caring for my family’s needs to promoting my book.
(After hearing of TED Talks for ever and ever, I finally watched one, all about asking. The content is strictly non-religious, but its messages about asking, receiving, and relationship apply here as well.)
“Ask and it will be given to you.”
In order to receive, you will most often have to ask. And that’s not a bad thing.
Do you have difficulty asking? Have children ever given you a fresh perspective on your relationship with God?
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