There are at least three components repeated in the Gospels. First, there is the straightforward claim that asking, seeking and knocking will be received, found and opened. Second, there is the “in my name” condition. Third, there is the “really mean it and don’t doubt” condition.
First, that we will always and unavoidably get what we ask for. It is either true or false. An interpretation on which it is true: I either ask for what is mine or I do not. Either way, I will always and unavoidably receive that which is mine or that which is not mine. What is not mine I cannot control. The key is to see the profound risk in asking or seeking what one cannot control. It is welcoming disaster and making one’s master that which will go one way or another regardless of what the asker asks for. Included in this category: body, property, career, reputation, etc. What is mine? What can I control? Choice, avoidance, desire, aversion, intention, perception, thought, virtue, righteousness, purity. The heaviest burden and lightest release are present in that truth. Ask and you shall receive. Note the implication: if I do not have righteousness it is because I do not ask for it. Period. Who else is to blame?
Second, more particularly that I will always get what I ask for in the name of the sage. First, what would it mean to ask in his name? It would mean to ask what he would ask for? To appeal to him is to appeal to the divine on account of what the divine is already committed to. The divine is committed to doing what is within his wise and just rule and governorship. The sage is in unity with the divine. Getting back to my asking: asking in the name of Jesus means asking from a will that is in unity with what Jesus wills which is in unity with what the divine governorship of the universal reality wills.
Do you want more? What would it mean to know more truly what the divine governorship of the universe wills? What would it mean to see more clearly how to align ones asking with the divine will? The sage says, “The pure in heart will see God”. Go for purity. The rest will follow. Clarity of sight is proportional to good character.
Finally, “really mean it.” Here the sage makes a seemingly outlandish claim that if we really believe and do not doubt we will be able to move mountains into the sea. Really? There is the deeply committed literalist who simply asserts, “Yes!” and sticks his head in the sand unwilling to look around and note that this has never been the case. Or willing to blame the faulty faith of humans for it never happening.
There are other moments where Jesus makes outlandish claims in order to shock, startle and awaken his listeners. The exaggeration contains the truth. What is more difficult than moving mountains into the sea (move matter from here to there)? What is more difficult is making a being in a bad state a being in a good state? The change in the material realm is not too difficult to understand. As long as there is a suitable cause we can posit a suitable effect. But how does an individual in a bad state put himself in a good state? This is miraculous (and I will not accept the interpretation that it is done for me. I have not found this to be true, and I have found it to be productive of laziness).
We have already established (boldly stated) that asking is best directed at virtue and righteousness both because it is the only thing I am give control over, and because it is the only thing I can ask for that makes appeal to Jesus’ account. Here we get to add that we better mean it. Here we are invited to ask ourselves whether we really want righteousness or not. Every moment of choice or avoidance, desire or aversion, intention, perception is a moment in which I evidence to myself whether I really want righteousness or not.
Dear reader: join me today in collecting the evidence, each of us in our own lives. Carry the burden. No one else can. Know that the universal order is set up such that if we ask for the only thing we should ask for (virtue/righteousness) we will get it.