The theme of persistence in prayer runs through the liturgy of the word for this Sunday. From Abraham’s bargaining with God (Gen. 18:20-32) to Jesus’ teaching on how to pray (Lk 11:1-13), followers of Jesus are instructed not only to pray but to pray persistently. One of the moments that stuck with me during the Vacation Bible School (VBS) held in our parish this past week was a skit performed by our parish volunteer youths. The performance on day two of VBS began with Abby (playing the role of Mrs. O, a classroom teacher) telling her students that for the day’s lesson, they were going to learn about prayer. The class unfolds with a discussion on prayer. Prayer is not “rocket science,” it is simple, explains Mrs. O. She goes further to say that God is always listening to our prayers, whatever form they come in. God always listens to our prayers. This is true. Even when we don’t feel so, God listens. Then why do we need to keep asking, seeking, and knocking to get God to answer our prayers?
Praying persistently is a given in the life of a Christian. God is not absent or deaf. He is alive and living, yet Jesus and the Bible encourage us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5: 17-19). Praying consistently is a sign of our deep and personal relationship with God. It demands an ongoing conversation with our Father, Abba. In addressing God continually in prayer, we are not only signifying our dependence on him but establishing our love for him. When you love a person, you look forward to speaking with the one you love as often as possible. Also, when you love a person, you are most likely to confess that love in words: “I love you.” It is the same with the life of prayer. We persist in prayer to confess our unending love for God. Also, the more frequently we turn to God in prayer, the more we become aware of his will and are more disposed to accept his will. Praying persistently opens us up to more of God’s plans and grace. Prayer transforms our perception and changes the world. But these transformations happen the more we humbly turn to God in prayers.
Last Sunday, we aligned ourselves with Mary by sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen to him. We may add to that humble listening disposition today by speaking words of prayers to Jesus, whom we have and will continue to listen to. We are invited to ask him for our needs, seek his face and blessings, and knock persistently at the door of his mercy and love. We should never take a break from praying. In all seasons, in all conditions, in abundance and dryness, the love of God should urge us to remain in our prayers. Prayer is the key to a robust and healthy relationship with God. Without earnest and frequent prayers, we become susceptible to the influence of the diabolic one. We can only stay in love with Jesus and resist the lure of sin and the devil when we pray persistently. As Catholics, we pray the Lord’s Prayer frequently. Let us never start our day or let a day go without praying the prayer Jesus taught his followers because it contains all the essential things needed for our spiritual growth. With deep faith and affection, and from a place of love and devotion, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, pray “Jesus is Lord,” or any other ejaculatory prayer throughout the day. I can guarantee that you will grow in your faith in God and love for his Kingdom.
Through Christ, Our Lord,
Fr. Bernard, OP