Don’t be afraid to ask God!

Photography © by Andy Coan

I’ve often heard people say that they don’t want to trouble God with their petty needs and concerns.  After all, he has more important things to attend to, like running the universe.

Yet, the New Testament makes God out to be a glutton for punishment.  Not only does Jesus often urge us to ask for what we need – “Ask and you shall receive” (Luke 9:11.), but he praises the people, like Bartimaeus, who ask in the loudest, most obnoxious of ways (Mark 10:46-52).  And to top it off, he tells stories in which he showcases rude, relentless people who wake up their neighbors in the middle of the night (Luke 11:5-8).  My all-time favorite is the story in this Sunday’s gospel of the nagging widow who won’t give the judge a moment’s rest till she gets what she wants (Luke 18:1-8).

The unjust judge simply wanted to get the lady off his back.  He wanted the widow to stop bugging him.  But God appears to want us to bug Him.  And keep bugging Him.  Why?  Maybe because He’d rather us look to Him for assistance than to the idols of this age.  Perhaps because he knows that asking Him for help strengthens the virtue of humility in us since it is an admission that we are not in total control of the universe and just might need His help.  Perhaps because He is a loving Father and likes being with us, even when we come just to ask Him to open his wallet.

When I was a teen, I thought that prayer was about nothing but asking for things.  I prayed that God would keep my parents from finding out about certain things I’d done.  I prayed that the best-looking girl in the class would like me.  After all, Scripture says to ask.

But Scripture also tells us what to ask for.  And there is the rub.  We are often wrong about what to ask for, because we misidentify what will really make us happy.  God knows us better than we know ourselves, since He created us.  And He loves us more than we love ourselves, because He is our Father.

So before talking to Him, which is certainly one dimension of prayer, we need to listen to Him, which is an even more important dimension of prayer.  We were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

But how do we listen to him?  One privileged way is through Scripture.  These words are guaranteed to be His, for they are inspired, breathed by the Holy Spirit, divine words in human words (2 Timothy 3:16).  This does not just mean that the Holy Spirit moved once, guiding the authors when they wrote the words down thousands of years ago.  It means that the Holy Spirit dwells in these words as in a Temple and beckons us to enter to meet him regularly, for a life-changing rendezvous.  These words are not simply a wearying catalogue of ideas we need to buy into, facts we need to believe, or rules we need to observe.  Instead they are meant to be a fresh, personal, energizing communication from God each time we hear or read them.   They are food for our souls.

Most of us don’t eat once a week.  We eat daily.  Several times a day in fact.  So we should gather up the manna of God’s word at least daily, maybe even several times a day.

So you don’t have much time for quiet prayer and extensive Bible reading?  Join the club.   You may not have time for a daily Thanksgiving feast, but I bet you snack a few times a day.  There are scriptural, bite-sized snacks called the Psalms that have been the backbone of prayer for God’s people for nearly 3,000 years.  The Psalms are God’s inspired word through which He speaks to us, but they happen to be cast as prayers that we can use to speak with Him.  That kills two birds with one stone.  And they cover everything that we could possible want to say to God.  “Thank-you,” “praise you,” “why are you doing this to me?,” “please help me!,” etc.  There are even a few asking God to smash our enemies.  These would have been perfect for Moses to have used while praying during the battle with Amalek (Exodus 17: 8-13), except they hadn’t been written yet.

If you have time for three meals or snacks a day, you have time for at least three Psalms a day.


Editors Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) — Exodus 17:8-13; Psalms 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Second Timothy 3:14–4:2; Luke 18:1-8. This series of reflections on the coming Sunday Readings usually appears each Wednesday.

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.


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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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