Saturday, July 02, 2005

What do You Need?

Only you can answer that question. Or can you? Maybe you don't know what you really need, or maybe you think you know, but in fact you've got it all wrong. Maybe you know what you'd like, but maybe that isn't good for you, or for your salvation. There is someone who knows what you need. You may not think so, or you may not confidently entrust your needs to Him, but Jesus says clearly that your heavenly Father does know what you need, even before you ask Him.

Consider the lilies of the field, the Lord says, how God clothes them with beauty--plants that bloom and die within a few weeks. What about us who have been created and destined for eternal life? Not only does He know our needs better than we do, He tries to enlighten us to understand that, so we can trust Him enough to wait for the fulfillment of his providence in our lives.

I wrote yesterday that God's presence ought to be enough for us. That doesn't mean that the spiritual awareness of his presence will replace food and clothing and the means to acquire other material needs. But it means that our prayer can be a simple entering into his presence, without a list of anxious or urgent petitions that we're trying to get Him to act upon now, alerting Him to our needs. To pray is to become aware that He already knows, already has our best interests at heart.

"This entrusting to God the judgment of my real needs, therefore, is the heart of the prayer of request. For a Christian, asking God for specific things is optional; what is not optional is entering in silence and solitude of heart into his presence... Prayer, far from being an effort to inform God of anything He does not yet know, is the crucial entering of the Christian into the lived reality of his trust in God, his passing from a condition of incertitude, anxiety, and distrust to a firm state of soul in which all his tendency to calculate and to insure his own welfare gradually yields to the encompassing presence of God's providence" (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis).

So before you tell God what you need, ask God what you need. We try desperately to convince God, to demonstrate that what we're asking for is the only sensible solution, to remind Him that it is really the best thing for us, and basically to bring Him around to our way of seeing things and assessing our situation (since, being somewhat far away in heaven and not being burdened with the exigencies of earthly life, He might not quite understand). But all that is unnecessary and fruitless, and can even get in the way of our receiving what we really need. God knows what you need. Repeat after me: "God knows what I need." Enter into his presence with trust. As the saying goes, God gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.