Sunday, July 25, 2010

How do I pray?

Once a person asked Mother Teresa what her secret to sanctity was: She responded, “Its simple, I pray”

Gospel text (Lk 11:1-13): One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, «Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples». And Jesus said to them, «When you pray, say this: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test’».

Jesus said to them, «Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says: ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived and I have nothing to offer him’. Maybe your friend will answer from inside: ‘Don't bother me now; the door is locked and my children and I are in bed, so I can't get up and give you anything’. But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And 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 the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. If your child asks for a fish, will you give a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give a scorpion? Even you evil people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those who ask him!».

Today, Jesus praying teaches us how to pray. Let us pay great attention to how his attitude enlightens us. Quite often, Jesus Christ feels the need to meet face-to-face with his Father in prayer. In his Gospel, Luke emphasizes this point. There is this human tendency we all have of avoiding persons and experiences which make us feel bad about ourselves. The opposite is true as well. Overweight persons do not easily look at themselves in a mirror nor take advantage of stepping on scales. The more shapely can spend much time doing both. We all desire a more positive experience of ourselves, but seem to always have a certain something or certain someone’s who can make us feel inferior. As we prepare for the next celebration of the Eucharist, we should reflect on just how attending actively the Eucharistic liturgy makes us feel. We might reflect upon how we experience ourselves upon entering the worship space as compared with how we feel upon leaving.

The Gospel ends with some quite homey references to how friends and parents are so good in giving to their children, what is good for them. There is the very attractive idea that if we knock, the door will be opened, if we ask, we will receive. The Lord wants us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations. We will only find our fulfillment as human persons by entering into that kind of relationship. This is the meaning and purpose of life itself. As we grow in faith through our participation in the life of grace, lived out in the Church, our capacity to respond to His loving invitation grows as well.

Today, we are Jesus’ contemporary disciples. We need to ask the same question asked 2000 years ago, "Lord, Teach us to Pray". Then, filled with His very Divine Life within us, we can learn how to "become prayer" by learning to "make our home in God".

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