Oct 16, 2016
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ex 17:8-13,2 Tm 3:14-4:2, Lk 18:1-8
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the petition of good things from him in accord with his will.” (Comp. CCC 534) The Holy Scriptures for this Sunday demonstrate that prayer can be something that comes naturally to us as well as demanding effort and endurance. For example, in the midst of a battle the people desperately look to Moses to quickly pray on their behalf. The parable Jesus tells us in the Gospel shows how, in order to prayer, we have to go out of our way, make an effort, and even have a plan in order to pray not only consistently but successfully.
Sometimes prayer comes naturally and other times it’s work. When someone is sick, when we are afraid or uncertain and especially when we find ourselves desperate, we would turn to God and pray. But there is also that element of difficulty in prayer - finding the time when our lives are too busy, calming the mind when our senses are targeted by the outside world in so many ways, focusing our attention when distractions abound and directing our thoughts when discipline of mind and body is often times lacking.
Our individual, personal and private prayer before God, whether at home or in quiet moments, is extremely important and should never be underestimated or taken for granted. In fact, time should be set aside every day to enter into prayer, regardless what our daily circumstances are, or even whether we feel like it or not. The Psalms and are essentially model prayers which come from the heart and even the anguish of the human soul. For this reason the Psalms are often called the Church’s Prayer Book. If you don’t know where to start in praying to God, make these words your own – search through all the different psalms and allow them to put words into your mouth and to resonate in our heart. When St. Paul was writing to St. Timothy about the divine inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures, the Book of Psalms is included.
But if you are looking to get something instantly out of prayer, don’t! You have to put something into it first. When we worship God in prayer, is not so that we can receive a warm, feeling inside or so that we can get something out of it. Prayer is first and foremost the lifting up of our minds and hearts to the God who created the universe out of nothing and holds everything in existence, who sees our lives from an immensely greater perspective than we could ever imagine. Prayer demands much effort from us, not because we should be afraid of God. Through Christ we have seen his face and know of His love. Our response comes from a sense of humility before such love reveled to us and the acknowledgement that the sacrifices we make are worth the effort on our part.
Those who wrote and prayed the psalms never expected instant results. Rather, the prayer was made persistently and continuously, much like the widow in the parable the Lord talks about. It “assures us God will bend his ear to those who offer him their prayers, not carelessly nor negligently but with earnestness and constancy. (Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 119) “Even if he makes us wait, he will nevertheless answer us …We should eagerly cry out to him day and night, begging him with a broken heart and a humble spirit. ‘A humble contrite heart, he will not spurn’.” Martyrius, Book of Perfection 75)
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