Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Thursday March 14

In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to "take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures," we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.

The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called "Lectio Divina," an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process:

Today, Thursday of the First Week of Lent
Text: Matthew 7:7-11

Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Ask and it will be given to you; 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. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.

You may have heard the expression, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Truly there is a statement born out of the experience of disappointment in our life. We have hoped, wanted and desired, and then when it seemed as if our desires were going to be answered through this person in this situation, we became hopeful. However, in time, the hoped-for outcome did not meet our expectations. It was, in fact, too good to be true.

When Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Ask, seek, knock,” we want to take Jesus at his word. We want to believe that it is just that simple – like rubbing the lamp of the genie and getting my three wishes. Yet, we have had to deal with the disappointment of unanswered prayers in our life, and even when we hear the words of today’s gospel, we do not want to get our hopes too high. We back down and even make only “pious” wishes, thinking that this is all Jesus wants us to do.

Jesus, however, certainly does not want us to walk away from God when our prayers were seemingly unheard, nor does he want us to hide our true feelings behind meek and mild platitudes. He wants us to be real and totally transparent with our Father, for the goal of prayer is just that – intimacy with the Father who so labors to love us consistently throughout our entire lives. That means that we are not merely to bring “holy feelings” to prayer, but all our thoughts, feelings and desires – including our hurts and disappointments when prayers were seemingly not answered.

Perhaps you may have heard that there are three answer that God gives to any prayer: "Yes" (God desires to offer us a particular blessing that we are seeking), “not yet” (God asks us to wait so that what we seek may unfold in our lives at its proper time), and “I have something better for you” (God wants to offer us a deeper, richer grace in our lives). In all things, always give praise and thanks to the Father who so desires to love you completely.

Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?

Today I bring to the Lord al those moments when I have felt disappointed in an “unanswered prayer” in my life. I relate to the Lord All the feelings and the desires of my heart in that disappointment. I listen to how the Lord may respond to me as I share these feelings.

Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all hat we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.