Is it right to pray for material things?


What is meant by "ask and you shall receive"? Does it include material things? Isn't it true that God gives us only what we need, and not what we want? My life has not turned out the way I had wanted and therefore I find it hard to believe such statements and the "get what you want" spirituality that abounds. I am trying now to ask God to show me the way in life rather than to ask for things (this is quite hard to do to be honest). Am I doing the right thing? Any advice would be welcome.

—joydeep, india


Dear Joydeep,

The Bible verse you are referring to is St. Matthew 7:7-8 (KJV). It says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

I think the best way of interpreting this verse is to understand that it is a call for increasing inner communion with God.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything you ask for (material things or anything else) will manifest in exactly the ways we hope.

Rather, it is saying to God: “Let me be in your presence at all times, seeking you, loving you, talking to you as my Divine Friend.

Through that deepening relationship, I know that my needs will be met in the right way, at the right time, according to the lessons I need to learn in this lifetime.”

Yogananda suggests using an affirmation which reflects this important attitude:

“I will go forth in perfect faith, in the power of Omnipresent Good, to bring me what I need, at the time I need it.”

Praying doesn’t mean “you get what you want.” Prayer is talking with God; meditation is listening for the answer.

It’s a two part process — asking and receiving answers, through intuitive guidance, a direct result of daily meditation.

You say: “I am trying now to ask God to show me the way in life rather than to ask for things…. Am I doing the right thing?”

Yes, you are!

But remember also that Yogananda says: “God is the nearest of the near and the dearest of the dear.”

Even in our smallest or seemingly insignificant needs, God as our Friend can be with us, help us, and guide us — as any true friend would do.