The story of Queen Esther is a great example of what God’s providence might look like. Through a series of events, Queen Esther finds herself in a position to save the Jewish people. But to actually do this, she needed to summon the courage to confront the King, who is not aware she is Jewish. Through an “unlikely” series of circumstances she finds herself in a position where she can save the Jewish people in the kingdom. In summoning the courage to confront the king, she is encouraged by Mordecai to see that the blessings she has been given may be so that she can become the person through whom God saves the Jews.
And so the prayer we read in today’s first reading is Esther’s deep cry for help from God in this difficult dilemma she finds herself. Her prayer teaches us so many important lessons about our prayer. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.
We stand in a community of the past and present. Esther begins her prayer recalling the long history of God has had with us. “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.” The prayer Esther makes is to a God with a long history. She recalls the persons who identify for her the greatness of God in the past. It is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same God who has done so many great deeds in the past. Do we think about the past great deeds of God in our prayer? Do we recall all that God has done for us? All that God has done for others? Do we recall that we are a part of a great story of salvation that is so much bigger than we are? Do we recall that we are deeply connected to each other precisely because we are connected to each other?
Prayer expresses our trust in God. “Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand.” Our prayer is a statement of trust in God. We may not always feel very strong, we may think our prayer is weak, but every time we turn our hearts to God we are placing our trust in God. And with only a very small amount of trust, God can do amazing things. And even more amazing, even if our trust takes the form of asking God to help us trust him, or trust him more, that is a start. Do not worry about what to say. Worry about coming before God so that God can help you do amazing things.
Prayer can be asking God for something specific. “Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion.” We never need to be bashful in asking God for something specific. While God may not always give us what we ask, God always hears our prayer, and gives us something better than what we ask. What aspect of the spiritual life causes you to struggle? What part of being a disciple of Jesus do you find difficult? Where specifically do you need God the most? Ask. Trust. Seek. God so longs to help us to experience and know his powerful love for us. So, seek that powerful love. Seek to ask God for that thing that will help you to become closer to God. God can never be outdone in generosity. The lesson of today’s first reading is reinforced in the gospel. Ask. Seek. Knock. Ask God to grow in faith. Seek God wherever he may be found. Knock on the door that opens your heart to God. For God’s love always answers, is found, and opens. Trust God in his love for you. You’ll be glad you did.