Leaven Blog

For Lent, give up asking

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

“I broke my toy.”

“I scraped my knee.”

“I’m hungry.”

“I’m sick.”

“I’m bored.”

Do these statements sound familiar? If you’re a parent, like me, they certainly should.

This is the way our children approach us with their problems, condensing them into simple statements and laying them at our feet with complete confidence we understand and will take care of them.

Here’s another example:

“They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

I remember listening to the Gospel of the wedding at Cana one Sunday — as I had many times before. But this time, maybe because I was a parent of two preschoolers, I sat awestruck by the realization that Mary never asked for anything.

Like my children, she simply presented the problem to Jesus — not explaining the situation or telling him what to do.

And even though Jesus refused to take action at first, Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).

She was so faithful that his love could not refuse her.

I realized that day, through Mary’s example, that God doesn’t need us to whine, worry, complain and explain our problems, as I usually did during my prayer time.

He doesn’t need our suggested solutions either.

He just wants us to “become as little children” (Mt 18:3) — stating our needs simply and directly with complete confidence that our loving Father, who is always attentive, knows exactly what to do.

It made me think of one morning when my daughter came running into the kitchen and cried “Johnny pulled my pigtails!”

Just that, nothing more.

I dropped everything I was doing and gave her my full attention. I knew who Johnny was (my second born), and I knew by the tears in her eyes, and the shape of the pigtails, that it wasn’t a gentle pull.

She didn’t need to explain anything; she didn’t need to ask for anything. She had faith that if she simply presented the problem, I would know how to solve it.

And she was right.

Johnny never pulled her pigtails again.

As we enter into this time of prayer and abstinence to strengthen our faith in preparation for Easter, here’s a suggestion for a different kind of sacrifice. 

Use Mary’s template for prayer. Become like little children and approach your heavenly parent with complete trust and confidence.

For Lent, give up asking.

And, like Mary, prepare for God’s action in your life: “Do whatever he tells you.”

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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