Nearing the end of The Sermon on the Mount, Christ offers clear instruction about the need for perseverance in prayer. Christ describes the nature of persistence, telling men to ask, seek, and knock; He is describing an active type of prayer that is specific about needs (ask), is driven to find truth (seek) and that is undeterred when God seems distant (knocking on a closed door). Christ twice repeats His promise that God will answer those who ask, seek and knock in prayer.

Christ offers an analogy about the nature of fatherhood, both human and divine. Speaking directly to the fathers who were present, Christ asks them to confirm in their minds they would never feed their hungry son a stone or a serpent; if an evil father gives good gifts, men can be assured the Divine Father will respond with good gifts to the petitions of men. The Father has perfect knowledge of each man’s needs before he asks; it is men who need to be persistent in prayer so that they may constantly be reminded of God’s many blessings and men’s absolute dependence on God.

As the Father gives men good things, so should men give good things to others. Reiterating the Golden Rule, first given to Moses (by Christ!) a millennium earlier (Lev 19:18), Christ exhorts men to do as they “wish that men would do to you, do so to them”, a summary of the entire Law and the Prophets. Christ makes no exceptions, commanding men to love everyone, including neighbors, strangers and enemies.

1) While the Son of God was with the Father from the beginning, the Son learns to pray in His human nature in the Incarnation. Marvel at how the Son’s mysterious experience as the Perfect Man is used to teach men to pray.

2) Few men pray and even fewer pray daily. During Lent, imitate Christ, Who Teaches Men to Pray (CCC 2607-2615) and ask Him to help you stick to a daily prayer life.

3) During times of significant suffering, men can become discouraged when they knock but can’t hear Christ’s answer. During Lent, take up the Battle of Prayer (CCC 2725-2745) and pray for Christ to give you faithful persistence in prayer, particularly during times of suffering.