Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Ask and you will receive.” It makes prayer sound so simple: All you have to do is ask, and almost like magic you’ll get it. But God is not a vending machine of favors granted. Jesus’ words refer not so much to what you pray for but the confidence and persistence with which you pray. With that spirit of prayer, anything is possible. Do we pray persistently?
Jesus understood the deeply personal and specific nature of prayer. When he stepped aside to pray, the disciples waited till he finished to interrupt him. They didn't join him. Maybe they were scared to! Jesus knew what he was doing, and they didn't. Finally they got up the nerve to ask for advice. That advice, which we call the Lord's Prayer, is a blueprint for believers. Address God intimately. Praise God and declare your faith in Kingdom coming. Ask for what you need, both materially and spiritually. And, as the following parable makes obvious, don't give up. God will answer! The intimate debate between Abraham and God is an example of how bold we're allowed and expected to be. If it's important, keep asking.
I read the following this week: prayer is a brick in the “sacred architecture” of time. Jesus tells us that apart from him we can do nothing. When we make prayer our constant habit, we guarantee that the activity of our lives, our decisions and relationships, will never be far from his grace. That is why dear friends, the habit of prayer is one true sign of a person of faith. Prayer is not something we do only for ourselves, to get what we need or to elevate our thoughts to God. Teresa of Avila was conscious of the communal nature of this enterprise: We’re all in this together, and we pray most effectively when we unite our prayers with those of friends, family, and community.
Did you know that? Scripture scholar John Dominic Crossan asks us to consider this: 1) the Lord’s Prayer is Christianity’s greatest prayer, but it never mentions Christ. 2) It is prayed in all churches but never mentions church. 3) It is called the Lord’s Prayer but never mentions the Lord.4) It draws from Jewish tradition but doesn’t mention such common Old Testament themes as covenant, law, Temple, or Torah. 5) It undoubtedly transcends Christianity yet captures the essence of Jesus’s core teachings Mysterious, universal, transcendent, hopeful—as Saint Teresa of Avila says of the Lord’s Prayer, “If we study it, no other book seems necessary.” This week, Ask…………. ask, seek and knock!