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Nov 29, 2019 45 0 Jackie Perry
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Ask and You shall Receive

“And I tell you, ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE; 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” (Luke 11:9-10).

You may have sometimes felt, “What good does asking do if there appears to be no answer to my prayer?” You might be tired of people sending out “thoughts and prayers,” thinking it is just an empty platitude. I have heard that a lot. It is easy to highlight the bad and forget about the good. Sometimes it is even difficult to connect a clear line from the prayer to the answer. Why are we so quick to forget the multitude of prayers that have been answered but hold on to prayer intentions that seem to go unanswered, while our hearts remain unwilling to change? Sometimes we figure it is more convenient to allow anger and frustration to grow inside of us instead of unclenching our fists and opening our heart to align with the Lord’s plans for our lives.

Let Me Tell You a Little Story …

Three years ago I was getting frustrated with God’s plans. Through discernment and prayer, I felt a strong call to marriage yet open to God’s plans for me. I was single as could be with a heart FULL of desire for marriage and a building consternation and pain about why that was not being fulfilled.

In prayer one day, God showed me this Scripture, “Ask and you shall receive.” Then He brought it up again and again and again. “Okay, I get it,” I thought. “You want me to ask You for the desires of my heart.”

That is how I began the year 2016. I decided to own that Scripture more than I ever had. I got very specific and vulnerable by proclaiming to the Lord, “I want to meet my husband and I want to meet him by the end of this year.” I prayed that my future husband would have the courage to pursue me, that I would have an openness to allow him into my life and heart and that I would have absolute clarity that he was the one God had chosen for me.

Why to be Specific?

I know, it sounds demanding. Let me explain. I got specific in my asking because it seemed there was always a lingering fear polluting my desires. The fear was telling me, “Don’t ask for it. What if you never get it? You will look like a fool.” The asking was a very important part of this process for that very reason.

Asking is a form of belief and that belief is a form of trust in God our Father. I think that is what God really wants when He tells us to ask. He wants us to trust Him wholeheartedly with every piece of our lives, especially the parts that are most important to us.

I had to vulnerably spell out the desires of my heart, in detail without reservation and without creating an escape route for myself. I put a timeframe on it not because God works under our timeframe but so I would have to work hard to let go of my desire for control and put it entirely in His hands, whatever the outcome. I also had to face the fear of not finding a spouse. Asking like this forced me to dive directly into that fear rather than shielding myself from its unknown potential. I had to work hard to suffocate my distorted thought that I was unworthy to be a wife and mother.

At the End of the Deadline

As the months went by I went on a few dates and had some conversation here and there but nothing lasting materialized; nothing with lifelong potential. At the start of the 12th month my hope was dimming as the deadline I had set approached.

December began with a three-day silent retreat where I had plenty of time to wrestle with God in prayer. Each day, I spent an hour with a spiritual director who I already knew and trusted. In discussing my vocation, I explained how I had discerned a call to marriage but had no spouse in view. She mentioned the dating site Catholic Match but I was instantly irritated at the suggestion. It was not as if I was living like a recluse, opposed to dating, and willfully keeping myself from meeting the man I hoped to marry. I was constantly meeting people through sports, work, church, and other friends. Meeting people was not the problem, but meeting the right person was. I began to overheat internally at the sheer suggestion, thinking, “Here we go again …”

After direction I returned to my room and shouted at God a bit, asking Him why He even brought me to the retreat. I pouted, and then I went to blow off steam by going for a jog through the woods. About a half mile into my jog I began to shift my way of thinking. I wondered, “What’s going on inside me? Why is that such a hot button for me? Why am I so opposed to the idea of Catholic Match?” I came to realize that I had succumbed to pride. I pushed forward and duked it out with my pride (as well as a rather embarrassing desire to wallow in self-pity).

A Prerequisite Change

Finally I acquiesced and cried out to God, “FINE! I’ll sign up for the dating site if You want me to but only if You show me, at this retreat, that You do want me to.” I was not graceful at all. In fact I was quite childish, but I had conceded and that set the tone for my retreat. The process of letting go of fear and pride to entrust my life entirely to Him intensified.

Throughout the retreat, I received a lot of healing and restoration about vocation. I really needed to work on retraining my thoughts. Negative thoughts affected the way I chose to live and what I chose to believe about myself. My director pointed me to Habakkuk 2:2-3 and encouraged me to write out my vision for the future.

“Then the Lord answered me and said: write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late” (Habakkuk 2:2-3).

So I wrote out my vision. I did not overthink it. I just wrote what poured out from my heart. The central theme of my vision revolved around life with my future husband, honoring and loving the Lord. For the next six weeks, I read my vision every morning and every evening. I have heard that it takes six weeks to retrain your thoughts so I used my vision to reshape my mind and heart.

Remember that line from Habakkuk about the vision? “Wait for it. It will surely come. It will not be late.” That reiterated the importance of God’s timing and showed me that He wanted me to claim my vocation. I realized I was afraid to do so. Other girls discussed and planned their wedding details from childhood. I falsely believed I had not pleased God enough so maybe I would never marry.

When Vision begins to Unfold

By the time I left the retreat I was healed from the pride that had hindered me. I put my single status into the hands of the Lord and resolved to sign up for Catholic Match. Since procrastination could kill my resolution I made a profile as soon as I got home. It was not polished or designed to please; it revealed my authentic self. “You can take it or leave it,” I figured. “This is me.”

Less than a month later I began a conversation on Catholic Match with the man who would become my husband. The date was December 27, just four days before the end of 2016—the year I had given the Lord to find me a spouse.

I had asked. I had placed the matter in the hands of the Lord at the expense of my own pride. Then I claimed the outcome I desired—the one I felt the Lord was leading me to all along. I watched my vision begin to unfold as a reality.

I think God tells us to ask so we will be changed in the process. He already knows the desires of our hearts. The key to receiving what we have asked for is to trust in the Lord and grow closer to Him. My pride and fear were getting in my way. I had to become vulnerable and open to asking God for the desires of my heart and accepting His will for my life. Had I not done so, I may never have been open to the means God had chosen to introduce me to my spouse.

Ask with an open heart willing to change and then let the Lord do His work in your life. Ask and you will receive.

“God would not encourage you to pray if He was not willing to give.” —Saint Augustine

Jackie Perry

Jackie Perry is a wife and an inspiring writer. As a Catholic, Perry believes that one of the most important things you could ever choose in your life is to live radically, authentically and unapologetically as your truest self. You can learn more about her at laughsandlove.com

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