All Day (Thursday)
Meditations for Lent By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press Week 1: Thursday Knock Ask, seek, knock (Matt.7:7). These are the three degrees and, as it were, the three pleas that must be made
Meditations for Lent
By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press
Week 1: Thursday
Ask, seek, knock (Matt.7:7). These are the three degrees and, as it were, the three pleas that must be made with perseverance, blow upon blow. But what must we ask of God in order to emerge from this worse-than-bestial condition in which sin has placed us? We must learn from these words of St. James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching . . . but let him ask in faith, with no doubting” (James 1:5-6).
This is what our Lord himself teaches us: “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt . . . even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt. 21:21-22).
Consider then where your sin has brought you, and ask with faith for your conversion. Even if the weight of your sins be as great as a mountain, pray and your sins will retreat before your prayer. “Whatever you ask in prayer, if you have faith and never doubt, you will receive.” Jesus purposefully made use of this extraordinary comparison to show that everything is possible to the one who prays. So take heart, and do not ever despair of your salvation.
Knock. Persevere in knocking, even to the point of rudeness, if that were possible. There is a way of forcing God and wresting his graces from him, and that way is to ask continually with a firm faith. We must think, with the Gospel: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” which he then repeats by saying, “Every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). We must, therefore, pray during the day, pray at night, and pray every time we rise. Even though God seems either not to hear us or even to reject us, we must continually knock, expecting all things from God but nevertheless also acting ourselves. We must not only ask as though God must do everything himself; we must also make our own effort to act according to his will and with the help of his grace, as all things are done with this support. We must never forget that it is always God who provides; to think thus is the very foundation of humility.
“And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). This perpetual prayer does not consist in a perpetual tension of the mind, which will merely expend all our strength without bringing us to our goal. This perpetual prayer is accomplished when, having prayed the Divine Office, we glean from our prayer and reading some truth or some word that we keep in our heart and that we effortlessly recall from time to time, while holding ourselves as much as possible in a state of dependence toward God and showing our needs to him, that is to say, placing them before his eyes without saying anything. Just as the drought-stricken land seems to call out for rain merely by exposing its dryness to the sky, so also does our soul when we place our needs before God. This is what David said: “My soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Ps. 143:6).
Lord, I do not need to pray to you; my need itself prays. My neediness prays. My necessity prays. As long as this disposition lasts, we pray without praying. As long as we take care to avoid what would imperil us, we pray without praying, and God understands this language. O Lord, before whom I am, before whom all my misery appears, have pity on it, and all the times that it appears to you, O God most good, let it beg your mercies for me. This is one of the ways of praying always, and, of them, perhaps the most effective.