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March 2009

If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (John 16:23, cf. John 15:16)

The most absurd sight you can see in the world is, on the one hand, lots of people wandering aimlessly about, always searching for something. In the midst of life's unavoidable trials they have a deep longing, a need for help, and feel like orphans. But, on the other hand, there is God, the Father of all, who would like nothing better than to use his almighty power to grant the wishes of his children and satisfy their needs.

It's as if an emptiness and a fullness were crying out for each other. Yet the two do not meet.

This unhappy effect is one of the things that can be caused by the human person's freedom.

But for those who acknowledge him, God never ceases to be Love. Listen to what Jesus says:

If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Here we see some of those words, rich in promise, that Jesus repeats every so often in the Gospel. Through them, using various expressions and explanations, he teaches us how to obtain what we need....

Only God can speak like this. His possibilities are unlimited. He can give whatever he wishes, spiritual or material, possible or impossible.

But we need to pay close attention: Jesus tells us how to present our requests to the Father. He says, "In my name."

If we have even a little faith, these three short words should give us wings.

You see, Jesus who lived here among us knows our boundless needs, the needs of each of us, and he feels compassion for us. So where prayer is concerned, he intervenes personally. It's as if he were saying to you, "Go to the Father on my behalf and ask him for this, and for that, and for the other." He knows that the Father can't say "no" to him. He is his Son and he is God.

We don't go to the Father in our own name, but in the name of Christ. Remember the saying: "Don't shoot the messenger"? After all, the message isn't the messenger's fault.

By going to the Father in the name of Christ, you are merely Christ's messenger. The matter is sorted out between the two interested parties.

There are many Christians who pray in this way and who could tell us how they have received countless blessings. These show God's fatherly care and attention watching over them day by day.

If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

You may say to me, "I have asked time and again in the name of Christ but I've got nowhere."

That's quite possible. I mentioned before that in other passages of the Gospel Jesus invites us to ask for what we need and gives further explanations, but perhaps you've not noticed them.

He says, for instance, that we obtain what we request if we "remain" in him, and that means to remain in his will....

It could be that you ask for something that doesn't fit in with God's plan for you, something that he doesn't see as useful for your life here on earth or in heaven, or that he even considers harmful.

How could he, your Father, grant your prayer in this case? He would be cheating you, and that he will never do.

So before praying it would be good to make an agreement with him and say: "Father, I would like to ask you this in Jesus' name, if you think it's all right."

If what you are asking is in harmony with God's loving plan for you, then you will see these words come true:

If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

It could even be that you ask for things, but without any intention of bringing your life into line with what God demands.

In this case do you think it would be fair for God to grant your request? He doesn't just want to give you a gift, he wants to give you complete happiness. And you can have that only if you live God's commandments, live his words. It is not enough just to think about them, nor merely to meditate on them; they must be lived.

If you do this, you will obtain everything.

To sum up, would you like to obtain things from God? Ask for anything you want, in the name of Christ, with the intention of doing his will and obeying his laws.

God is very happy to give us things. Unfortunately, it is often we who close his hands.

Chiara Lubich.

(First published as the Word of Life for November 1978)

 

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