Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”

"Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones." Ask and you shall receive," Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord." --Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Gospel text (Jn 17,1-11a):
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you,
with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

“I pray for them.” - John 17:9

One sentence. So simple. So powerful. Jesus, two millennia ago, prayed for me. Prayed for you. Prayed for us, on our journeys. Together.

Whenever I read this passage, I envision a Jesus passionately in prayer. I can’t help but see a man with his heart on fire with love, truly communicating, truly one with his Father in heaven from whom he came and to whom he will return. He understood he was physically leaving his friends, both the Apostles and us, soon. He knew how difficult this world was to live in; he knew the challenges, frustrations, and persecutions firsthand, and he didn’t want to leave us hanging. So he prayed.

He prayed that we could transcend the world. He offered our difficulties to the Father. He brought our crosses to the Father before he brought his own on Calvary. He prayed that we might have the strength, through our faith, to continue in the world, living apart from it. How often I have prayed this very prayer myself…forgetting that our Lord first offered this on my behalf during the Last Supper.

Certainly Paul too took heart in Jesus’ prayer when he explained that “the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me.” But instead of waiting for that worldly imprisonment and hardship fearfully, Paul jumped right into his mission in order to “finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” Paul so deeply believed that Jesus would not abandon him as he strove to live as a witness of the Truth that his faith did not waver.

Jesus knows the mission he has given each of us is not an easy one. To live for him in a world that constantly pulls us in the opposite direction, away from the one we love most, is quite taxing, actually. What’s reassuring, though, is that Jesus knows our hearts too. He knows when we strive for faithfulness and he understands our hardships. That’s why his prayer is such a relief. It’s not a free pass to heaven nor a coupon for an easy life, but it’s a promise to remain with us through it all.

“I pray for them.”

Try replacing “them” with your name. He gets it. And he’s never stopped praying to the Father on our behalf.

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