In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us how to pray. First there is a “condensed” version of the Lord’s prayer, next the parable about an insistent friend who won’t take no for an answer, then: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
But we’ve all experienced times when we’ve asked and not received, sought without finding, knocking at a door that seems to stay closed.
Any passage in Scripture must be considered in the light of the whole Bible. On the night before Jesus died, he promised, “If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you” (John 16:23). So the promises of Jesus in today’s Gospel must not be taken in isolation, but in the context of John 16:23.
On the same night Jesus told us to pray in his name, he knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He prayed with complete submission to the Father’s will. That is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.
What Jesus wanted was to be relieved of the cup of suffering. But instead, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength” (Luke 22:43). Prayer in Jesus’ name does not seek to bring God around to our way of thinking but to bring us around to God’s way of thinking. We may pray that God will take away pain or disability, and receive instead the patience and strength to endure, as Saint Paul did (2 Corinthians 12:7‑9).
Our Blessed Mother united her will to God’s when she stood at the foot of the cross. She lived the words she spoke at the Annunciation: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary helps us to pray with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.”