Somebody needs a good smiting and I think it ought to start with the marketing or advertising department at Restoration Hardware.
This gem of spiritual advice was in the window of the Restoration Hardware store in the Alamo Quarry shopping center. I was driving around looking for a parking place on Monday and this caught my eye. The sad thing is that for most of the scripturally illiterate people in this country, this ad might register something slightly familiar with them. Kind of like a few words from a song they know they’ve heard before but just can’t remember where. We have now come down to twisting our Lord and Saviour’s own words to sell s#$@! to people who may or may not be aware of the true significance of Christmas, aside from shopping, presents, and feasting. It’s all about giving so you can get in on the receiving.
(My ranting rings a bit hollow I think as yours truly shoves Christmas cookies and tamales into her mouth for breakfast, and is surrounded by the detritus of wrapping paper and toy carnage.)
The original context for this bit of propaganda is the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 11:9-11.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
St. John Climacus in the Ladder of Divine Ascent spells out clearly what this passage means and why and how we petition God through our prayers.
Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience. For thus he who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened…[but] all who ask and do not obtain their requests from God, are denied for one of the following reasons: because they ask at the wrong time, or because they ask unworthily and vaingloriously, or because if they received they would become conceited, or finally because they would become negligent after obtaining their request.
God knows exactly what we need even without our prayers, but it’s through prayer that we we are trying to understand His will and communicate with Him in a united, cooperative manner. In the passage from Luke above, Jesus is speaking about our boldness before God through prayer, but that doesn’t mean you should ask Him for retro door knobs and 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. That’s the same heresy the health-and-wealth gospel preachers have been passing off for years. Jesus doesn’t owe you anything, certainly not a new set of furniture, a new car or designer clothes. You want stuff like that, ask Santa Claus.