“ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.” -(Gospel of Sunday. John xvi. 23-30).
The whole life of the Saints has been one of meditation and prayer; and all the graces by means of which they have become Saints have been received by them in answer to prayer. If therefore we are to be saved and become Saints, we should ever stand at the gates of Divine mercy and beg and pray, as for an alms, all that we stand in need of. Ask and you shall receive.
Ask and you shall receive. We are poor in all things; but if we pray we are tich in all things; for God has promised to grant the prayer of him who prays to Him. He says: Ask and you shall receive. What greater love can one friend show towards another than to say to him: Ask of me what you will and I will give it to you? This is what the Lord says to each one of us. God is Lord of all things. He promises to give us as much as we ask Him for; if, then, we are poor, the fault is our own, because we do not ask Him for the graces of which we stand in need. And it is on this account that mental prayer is morally necessary for all, inasmuch as when it is laid aside, while we are involved in this world’s cares, we pay but little attention to the soul; but when we practise it we discover the wants of the soul, and then we pray for the corresponding graces and obtain them.
The whole life of the Saints has been one of meditation and prayer; and all the graces by means of which they have become Saints have been received by them in answer to prayer. If, therefore, we would be saved and become saints, we should ever stand at the gates of Divine Mercy to beg and pray, as for an alms, all that we stand in need of. We need humility: let us ask for it and we shall be humble. We need patience under tribulations: let us ask for it and we shall be patient. The Divine love is what we desire: let us ask for it, and we shall obtain it. Ask and it shall be given you-(Matt. vii. 7} is God’s promise, which cannot fail. And Jesus Christ, in order to inspire us with the greater confidence in our prayers, has promised us that whatever be the graces we shall ask of the Father in His Name, for the sake of His love or His merits, the Father will give us them all: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it to you (John xvi. 23). And in another place He says that if we ask of Him anything in His own Name and through His merits, He will grant it: If you ask me anything in my name, that will I do-(John xiv. 14}. Yes; because it is of Faith that whatever God can do can also be done by Jesus Christ, Who is His Son.
The Council of Trent teaches, in the words of St. Augustine, that, though man is not able with the aid of the grace ordinarily given to fulfil all the Commandments, still he can, by prayer, obtain the additional helps necessary for their observance. “God does not command impossibilities,” says St. Augustine, “but by His precepts He admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask what you cannot do; and He assists you that you may be able to do it.” To this may be added another celebrated passage of St. Augustine: “By our Faith, which teaches that God does not command impossibilities, we are admonished what to do in things that are easy, and what to ask in things that are difficult.”
But why does God, Who knows our weakness, permit us to be assailed by enemies which we are not able to resist? The Lord, answers the holy Doctor, seeing the great advantages which we derive from the very fact that we have of necessity to pray to Him, permits us to be attacked by enemies more powerful than we are, that we may ask His assistance. Hence they who are conquered cannot excuse themselves by saying that they had not strength to resist the assault of the enemy; for had they asked aid from God He would have given it; and had they prayed, they would have been victorious. Therefore, if they are defeated, God will punish them. St. Bonaventure says that if a general lose a fortress in consequence of not having sought timely succour from his sovereign, he shall be branded as a traitor. Thus, God regards as a traitor the Christian who, when he finds; himself assailed by temptations, neglects to seek the Divine aid. Ask, says Jesus Christ, and you shall receive. Then, concludes St. Teresa, he that does not ask does not receive. This is conformable to the doctrine of St. James: You have not, because you ask not -(James iv. 2). St. John Chrysostom says that prayer is a powerful weapon of defence against all enemies. “Truly prayer is a great armour.” St. Ephrem writes that he who fortifies himself beforehand by prayer prevents the entrance of sin into the soul. “If you pray before you work, the passage into the soul will not be open to sin.” David said the same: Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies. -(Ps. xvii. 4). If we wish to lead a good life, and to save our souls, we must learn to pray. “He,” says St. Augustine, “knows how to live well who knows how to pray well.”