“Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you.”
If God knows all things, if he knows our needs even before we ask for them—why is there a need for us to pray?
A story is told of Alexander the Great wanting to meet the great philosopher, Diogenes. He finally had the chance one day, as he learned Diogenes was sitting alone on the beach. Alexander, with his retinue of soldiers went to the beach and saw Diogenes sunbathing.
They walked towards the old man and Alexander stood right in front of him. Diogenes looks up and sees the young Alexander who then says: “Great Diogenes, I have heard your renown and the great things you have taught many. I have come to pay you homage. Ask me for anything and I will grant it”.
Without even thinking, the old philosopher says to the young man: “There is but one thing I ask of you, great king. Do move aside. I am sunbathing, and you are blocking the sun”.
What we ask for in prayer shows who and what we are as persons, what we value and cherish most, what we find meaningful and important in life.
What do we ask of God when we pray? Do we pray for ourselves? For those connected to us? Do we pray for wealth? For health? For success? Do we pray for that thing which will give us what we are really looking for in life?
God hears our prayers, we know that. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you”, Jesus tells us. We may not get exactly what we ask for, but God does hear our prayers.
The question is, do we—hear our own prayers? Do we listen to ourselves when we pray? Does our prayer make us realize important things about ourselves? Does our prayer make us realize what kind of person, what kind of man, brother, friend, co-worker, classmate, seminarian, disciple we are?
Do we wear masks before God when we pray or do we stand before him (and ourselves) as we truly are?
What we pray for is a reflection and a revelation of who we are: of our deepest values and longings, of what we believe to be most important in life. Sometimes, the things we ask for are daily needs, sometimes, they’re urgent needs; but they are always a reflection of who and what we are.
If God knows all things, if he knows our needs even before we ask them—why is there a need for us to pray?
The answer is simple. God knows us, even before we ask him for anything. He knows us through and through. He knows our needs, our wants, and our desires. It is we, who often do not know ourselves.
When we pray and ask God for things, it is not so much to tell him about us, but to tell us about ourselves. By letting Him know what we want and what we desire—we come face to face with who and what we really are, and we allow his grace to purify and transform us, into the kind of person he wants us to be, the kind of seminarian and future priest that he can use to continue his work of transforming the world and walking with his people. May our prayer always be:
"Lord, this is who I am. This is all of me: my strengths, my weaknesses, my fears, my worries, my anxieties, my gifts, talents, and skills. I hide nothing from you; I keep nothing from you; I hold nothing back. I stand before you, just as I am, with no masks, no pretensions, no made-up ideal image of myself. Just me. And I am truly grateful. Make use me as you will. Change me, as you changed water into wine at Cana. Transform me into the person you want me to be. I place my life completely in your hands.”