Sunday, July 28, 2013

“Prayer makes your heart bigger, until it is capable of containing the gift of God himself.”

"Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God's perspective and from eternity. That is why you must not give up on praying!"  - Pope John Paul II

(Gospel text: LK 11:1-13)
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.” 
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed. 
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish? 
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 
If you then, 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?”

Human beings are big on “how to.” Search on the Internet, and you will soon learn how to tie a tie, boil an egg, or even train your dog. The disciples were no different. They had seen Jesus pray. They had heard him praise Mary for sitting quietly at his feet and listening to his teaching. And they wanted to know how to do that, too.

So Jesus gave them what we call the “Our Father.” Though it looks like a five-step instruction, it is so much more. This prayer reveals much about who Jesus is, because it gives us a glimpse into his own prayer life. It also shows who we are, and God’s vision of how we should live. And it explains how Jesus wants us to relate to our heavenly Father, with the same mind and heart that he had as he walked the earth.

Who is your Father? He is perfect, holy, and worthy of adoration. But Jesus doesn’t tell you to say, “Holy Father.” Just “Father.” He makes it clear that your Father is not far away, untouchable, enthroned beyond your reach. He is close to you, eager to breathe his life into you. He hears your voice. He listens when you call, and promises to answer. He gives you “daily bread” generously—all that you need for life and holiness.

The Father loves you. Always and without exception. 

He sees your worst sins, and still he wants to hold you close. He offers forgiveness lavishly, reconciliation unreservedly, intimacy wholeheartedly. He gives you all the tools and grace you need to become as merciful as he is. And he protects you from the evil one so that you can spread that mercy far and wide.

Jesus gave the disciples so much more than a list of tips for effective prayer. He assured them that they could approach their Father confidently, knowing he will always listen, always forgive, always provide, always protect. 

And he, who is holy, will do no less for you.

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