At our mission tonight at St. Theresa in Woodside, New York, I’ll continue reflecting on the gift of prayer.
We all have the gift of prayer. We can pray. God gives that gift to saints and sinners alike, though we may tend to think only saints and “good” people can pray. But that gift is given to all, because God is Father of saints and sinner alike. Prayer is a gift of God’s mercy.
Prayer is a gift given to all; it’s meant to be used continually. Like the gift of faith growing like a mustard seed, the gift of prayer is meant to grow.
We’re reading all this year at Mass from Luke’s Gospel, which is called a gospel of prayer. It’s called that because the evangelist offers many examples and teachings of Jesus on prayer. Now, at this point in the liturgical year especially, our readings at Mass seem to be devoted to prayer.
Last week, for example, we heard the desperate prayer of the ten lepers: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” Today we heard the parable about the widow and the unjust judge. Next week, we’ll hear the humble, almost hesitant prayer of the publican: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Later on in Luke’s gospel, when Jesus dies and enters his glory, we’ll hear the cry of the thief: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” All these readings tell us God gives the gift of prayer to everyone, the sinner, the desperate, everyone.
Yet, prayer tries our patience. Like the poor widow facing the powerful unjust judge, whom we read about this Sunday, we may not see our prayers answered quickly. We can then grow weary praying. In his parable Jesus says our prayers are answered “speedily,” yet we have trouble understanding that word “speedily.” It doesn’t match our timetable or our expectations. We don’t like waiting.
We also can make prayer too small and limit it to things entirely personal. Today, some would reduce prayer and meditation to ways to gain inner balance or to bring your blood pressure down. Prayer is bigger than that. It’s asking for “God’s kingdom to come, God’s will be done.” Prayer is meant to open us to new horizons, new undertakings, to see the world with the eyes of Christ.
Far from leading us away from the world, we are led in prayer to face a world crippled by violence and strife. Only God can help us. Please Lord, come and assist us.
I’m going to pose some questions to those here at the mission:
What prayers are you attracted to?
Are there any places that lead you to prayer?
Any trying times in your life that you found yourself praying?
Then I’m going to reflect on some of our common prayers, like the Sign of the Cross and the Our Father. After that, we will have Benediction.