Do you have difficulty in praying as to know how and what to say? You are not alone. Many of us are having the same issue! I used to sit silently in front of the altar at home or at church. Looking at Jesus and I did not know what to say!
Thanks for the disciples’ asking. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to pray. It is known as the Lord’s Prayer. God is addressed as “our” Heavenly Father. In this prayer, we recognize the love and holiness of the gracious Father who wants to share his very life with us, his beloved children. The Kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim is the world of truth, love, and peace soon to be realized. We are called to be witnesses to this Kingdom by loving one another as Jesus has loved us. First, we worship God and then pray for our own needs. We ask for our daily temporal bread, but more importantly, the heavenly bread - the bread of eternal life. Then, we ask for the forgiveness of our offences with the commitment that we must forgive those who have offended us. This is the model of a universal prayer that we all are united as one body when we pray the Lord’s Prayer.
The Parable in today’s Gospel is about a man persistently knocking on his friend’s door at midnight for help. Jesus stresses the necessity of perseverance in our prayers. When we need something from God, we must keep asking. For Jesus has said, “Ask, you shall receive; seek, you will find; and knock, the door shall be opened to you.” The Father may delay the granting of our request because he wants us to continue to trust in him. This very perseverance in our prayer leads us to the understanding that we must rely on God in our life, for without him we cannot do anything. Also, the perseverance in our prayer helps sanctify us and brings us closer in our relationship with God; this, in itself, is a much greater blessing than the favor for which we are asking.
In today’s parable, Jesus also reminds us that even human fathers would not give stones when their children ask for bread, and that earthly fathers are generous enough to give what is good to their children. How much more generous will our heavenly Father be to us, his beloved children? We do not always know what is best for ourselves. But, our heavenly Father will always give what is best for us. If our requests for favors are in line with God’s will, which are beneficial for our souls, we will surely get an answer to our prayers for Jesus himself said so. The answer, however, may not come right away, and it may not always be what we ask for. It will be something better, something best for us that we do not even know we need.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was a bright young officer who developed a taste for gambling and women.During a battle, he was wounded in one leg and broken the other. He was in despair and wanted to die. During the long weeks of his recuperation in the castle of Loyola, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time, but only a copy of the life of Christ anda book of saints was available. The more he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating. Not only was this experience the beginning of his conversion, it was also the beginning of spiritual discernment. Eventually, he completely converted from his old desires and plans of romance and worldly conquests. He determined to study for the priesthood. In 1540, he became the founder of this new Order, the Company of Jesus. It is well known as the Society of Jesus - the JESUITS.
Looking back over our lives, we can now recognize how fortunate we were that some of the favors we always wanted and sought so fervently from God in our youth were not given us. God gave us instead a different gift, which changed the course of our lives for the better and saved us from the hardship. We now give thanks to our heavenly Father, who is always looking after us and giving us the best as we entrust our lives to him.
My brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father is a merciful and loving God; He will give what is best for us. As we come to the table of the Eucharist today, may Jesus help us to keep on persevering in our prayers and trust that if we "Ask, we shall receive; if you seek, we will find; and if we knock, it shall be opened to us."
Dcn. Theman Pham