A man from the back mountains of Tennessee found himself one day in a large city, for the first time standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old, haggard woman hobbled on, and the doors closed. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched smartly off. The father hollered to his youngest son, “Billy, go get mother.”

Unlike the elevator story, God actually uses prayer to change you. So when you pray “thy will be done,” you are transformed. But, if you stopped there, you would be leaving out half the story. The Gospels talk not only about submitting to God’s will, but also about asking God for what you need. Prayer is both about asking and surrendering. Think of the concepts “ask and you shall receive” and “thy will be done” as bookends to prayer. Most people either focus on “ask” with little thought of surrendering to his will, or they resign themselves with “thy will be done” and seldom ask at all.

In the Scriptures, Jesus prays by asking and surrendering. In a remarkable paradox, God doesn’t want either extreme–always asking or always submitting. What He wants is a dynamic mixture of the two. Today ask God for anything. Pray for the grace of genuine surrender. And remember “not to lose heart.”

–The Jesuit Prayer Team