“Ask and you will receive” may seem to be one of Jesus’s most extravagant promises. We have all asked and not received. To find out what Jesus actually meant, then, we have to answer a few questions: Who is asking? Where is the request going? Whom does it reach? For most people, the asking comes from the ego, with its unending stream of desires. The request is going out into empty space or to a vaguely remembered God from childhood. The receiver of the request is unknown.
What this means is that asking and receiving are disconnected. Indeed, they must be, because in everyday awareness the world is separate from us and fragmented into millions of isolated events. However, at a deeper level everything is unified and whole. When you ask for anything, the One is asking the One, God is asking God. And there is always a response.
Learn to ask in a new way, by expecting every wish to bring a response. Take the attitude expressed by the Persian poet Rumi: “Ask all of yourself.” The mechanics of giving and receiving are inside you. Therefore, the next time you pray for something, or simply desire it, go through the following steps:
- Express the desired outcome to yourself clearly.
- Detach yourself from your request after you make it.
- Take an undemanding attitude to the outcome.
- Be open to whatever response the universe gives back.
- Know that there is always a response.
In this case, “response” doesn’t mean a yes or no from God. There is no judge deciding whether you are worthy or not. Those perceptions were born of separation. When Jesus told his followers that God sees and knows everything, he was describing the complete intimacy between the self and the intelligence that pervades the universe. Since you could not exist without being part of that intelligence, praying to God is circular, a feedback loop.