Thursday, June 18, 2015

“How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer.”

“Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Our Father said, now and then, from our heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention.” - St. Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582: Spanish Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church)

Gospel Text: (MT 6:7-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

We do not subscribe to a "Burger King" mentality when it comes to prayer: "Have it Your Way!" The goal of our prayer should not be to have it our way but rather to have it God's way!

I once knew a very pious woman who told me: " I pray for everyone else, but I never pray for myself." I told her, "That's wonderful that you pray for others (intercession) but don't be so high-minded that you fail to pray for yourself and your own needs as well."

Jesus commands it! So don't be afraid to ask!

I suspect that the woman mentioned above felt that there was something inherently selfish about asking the Lord for herself. But nothing could be further from the truth. This almost natural desire to plead on one's behalf before the Divine Majesty is born of two realities: (1) our absolute neediness as creatures and fallen creatures at that and (2) our filial trust in God the Father Almighty.

The Catechism tells us: "By prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him." (2629)

However, God is not a giant candy machine dispensing goodies to His children. God is our all-powerful and all-loving Father who already knows our needs and will grant us those goods (not goodies) which are conducive to our salvation.

Dominican Fathers Antonio Royo and Jordan Aumann break it down this way:

"It is an error to believe that if we persevere in prayer, come what may, we shall always obtain that which we seek. Some things will be granted to us absolutely; some things will never be granted to us no matter how earnestly and how long we pray for them; still others will be granted to us only [my emphasis] if we pray, because God has decreed that they will be given only on the condition that we ask for them [my emphasis]" (The Theology of Christian Perfection, p. 501).

"So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees" (Hebrews 12:12)

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