Yesterday, I wrote a post about selfish desires. For those of you that didn’t read, it was about how I put my own material possessions in front of my other obligations both to God, my parents, and a friend. Well, God works in mysterious ways.
After I wrote that post and called “sour grapes” on those Dominican breviaries, I received an unexpected phone. My librarian friend called me out of the blue and told me some really exciting news. The parish priest had looked at those breviaries and told her that I could have them for a donation to the school which I would determine! Not the $200 or $500 I thought that I would pay, but something much smaller!
When I heard the news, I was overjoyed. I had asked and received in God’s own time. Not my own, but His.
One of the things I hear sometimes from other religious people is the old trope, “Don’t ask God for material possessions. Just ask for the big things: faith, hope, charity, etc.” In the Bible, however, Our Lord told us that if we asked for something with faith and confidence that we would receive it. No matter what that thing is.
However, God does attach strings to what we ask for in prayer. In my copy of The Raccolta, a collection of indulgenced prayers and practices, one frequently sees this sentence: “If this is for my eternal welfare and the good of my soul.” It’s a profound thought. If we ask God for something that is contrary to His Commandments or His will, then we will not receive it. No matter how much we pine or long for it, it simply won’t come.
That’s the thing about prayer. God determines in His time what is good for us and what we need. Indeed, He has known from all eternity how it is that we are to acquire some of the spiritual and temporal goods we have. He knows and understand our wants and needs, but it is up to us to figure out what those are. They maybe small and ordinary or they may be great. Once we have settled that problem, it is time for us to get on our knees and ask for them. Sometimes, God will grant them immediately. At other times, it will take a while.
I am reminded here of a story told by a parish priest whom I greatly admire. When he was a young boy, he had a fishing pole which was one of his prized possessions. One morning, a large truck barrelled over the fishing pole and broke it in half. The boy was crestfallen and angry with himself that he had been so irresponsible. A young priest, who had seen all of this from the truck, came out and asked the young man to go and pray with him to St. Anthony for a new fishing pole. Wonders of wonders! Some weeks later, a new fishing pole came.
I love this story because it shows us how anything is possible with faith. If we have faith like a mustard seed, we can do great things for God and other people. We just need to get to a point in our spiritual lives where prayer becomes our food and drink and we become like that importunate friend in the parable. We keep knocking, asking, and seeking until God opens the door no matter if it takes years or months or decades. God will grant us what we need if we only have the faith and confidence that He will grant our petitions.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!