Readings: Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:13-14 4:2; Lk 18:1-18
Pray And Don’t Give Up
1. In today’s first reading, we see the children of Israel at war with Amalek. Moses took his stand on a great hill and, lifting up his hands, implored God’s aid for his people. Moses had the support of friends to assist him when his hands were tired. We need the help of one another in our prayers. The encouragement we give to others, letting them know that we pray for them, may help them to cultivate a healthy prayer life. In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrated with the story of the unjust judge the need to persist in prayer until the Father hears us. The widow was not discouraged from going to the unjust judge until her demands were met. God, our Father, is not an unjust judge. He is a merciful Father who knows the needs of his children and will always provide for them in His time and in the manner best suited for them.
2. Our prayers are efficacious and are always answered. Even ‘No’ is an answer to a prayer. Jesus asked us to be persistent in prayer. He did not guarantee that our prayers would be answered in the way and at the time we wanted. He asked for humility and faith but gave no assurance for an instant answer. He promised a reward at the end of persistent prayer, not swift positive favors. He asked for commitment, not empty promises. The faith and commitment requested of us come from bearing trials and persecutions while remaining hopeful and joyful. God’s plans for us will come to pass in His time. It may be delayed but never be denied.
3. Prayer without movement toward its realization is a waste of time. It is a depletion of helpful energy. God will not do for us what we can and should do for ourselves. If you pray for God’s favor, create favorable conditions around you. A student who did not prepare for a test should not expect a successful outcome just because he prayed for it. He should study and pray to remember what he learned on the test day. Then God will crown his effort with success.
4. Have faith. St. James says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. That person must not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1: 5-8). Faith and trust in God are necessary ingredients for prayer.
5. Know what to ask for in prayer. Ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. St. James asks: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (4:1-4). “If you, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13:). “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:8).
6. Ask for wisdom. God said to Solomon, “Ask something of me, and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered, “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” (Verse 9). The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request; he gave him wisdom and other things he did not ask for. Be specific in your request, do not ask for too many things at one prayer time. After all, God knows all your needs. Therefore, seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, and He will provide for all your other needs. (Matt. 6:33).
7. Have a forgiving heart. Forgiveness is a condition for a fruitful prayer. Jesus said, “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance so that your heavenly Father may, in turn, forgive you your transgressions?” (Mk. 11:25-26). Isaiah said: “Lo, the hand of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Rather, it is your crimes that separate you from your God. It is your sins that make him hide his face so that he will not hear you” (59:1-2).
8. Be patient. Prayers are sometimes answered progressively. When Jesus cured the blind man at Bethsaida, he did not see right away but gradually. “‘Do you see anything?’ he replied, ‘I see people looking like trees and walking’” (Mk. 8:23-26). It was by laying his hands on his eyes a second time that the blind man saw clearly. Be patient and wait on the Lord. Hence, Jesus tells us to pray in ‘Our Father’ for the will of God to be done, not ours. A wise saying has it thus, “Prayer is not a device for getting our wills done through heaven, but a desire that God’s will may be done on earth through us.” Pray and wait for God’s time, not yours. Our prayers are always answered if we know how and what to ask. God is not unjust, He is not unconcerned with our problems, and He is not as far away from us as we may think. Instead, we are the ones who, sometimes, turn away from God and feel He delays in giving an immediate answer to our prayer. Whether we receive a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ answer, know that all prayers are answered. Remember to return to the Lord with thanks. Be blessed!
Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP