Here is an image for you to reflect on:
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you look at this little guy? I was reminded of those epic battles in the grocery story that I have witnessed and experienced between a child and parent. "Can I have some candy?" It begins gently enough but can escalate into a battle of wills pretty quickly. This week's Gospel gives us an opportunity to see this struggle in a different light. Check it out:
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; 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. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" Luke 11:1-13
The disciples have observed Jesus in prayer, likely on multiple occasions. They ask Him to teach them to pray. Jesus shares what we refer to as the Lord's Prayer or the Our Father. The prayer focuses on praising God and His Kingdom and then on the needs of the person praying. It has been the prayer of the Church since Jesus shared it with the disciples.
The teaching that follows the actual prayer might not have been what the disciples expected. Jesus teaches on the need for persistence. He emphasizes the need for them to ask, seek, knock. Finally, Jesus encourages them that the prayers of His children will be answered by their Father in heaven.
Now put yourself in that grocery cart. Once you stop laughing, think through the interaction. Ask, seek, knock, kick, cry, scream! We must keep asking but in doing so we must trust that what our Father in heaven has in the cart behind us is what we need, not what we want on the candy shelf near the cash register.