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.
Jesus went on, “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?
St. Luke 11:1-13
Jesus was praying. He doesn’t ask us to do things he wouldn’t do himself.
Jesus teaches us how to pray if we ask; real and sustaining prayer; prayer like food.
Jesus also informs us that as sons and daughters of the Father, we have an abundance of bread and gifts that the world is in desperate need of.
Prayers to God and Jesus are always answered. Prayers are not always answered the way we expect or desire, but they are always the absolute best answer. Why? Because God loves us as only a mother and father could. If we ask for a snake to eat, God most likely will give us a fish.
When we ask for something in prayer, do we always consider how our prayer will impact others? I am sometimes baffled how God could answer my trivial prayer to get over a cold before migrants and refugees who ask only to be treated with a drop of respect and drink of water. I shutter to think how our country cries over our health care details when our life expectancy is greater than most other countries that have none. Being rich is not a blessing as much as it is a responsibility. When much has been given, much is expected.
Our daily bread is a recognition and Eucharistic gratitude that we have the Creator of the world within our bodies and hearts. Therefore our prayer needs to be for wisdom (the first gift of the Holy Spirit), humility, joy and gratitude.
The serenity prayer says much about a true prayer. People who have hit rock bottom and are crying for mercy desperately pray it. “Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the acceptance of the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I accept that I can’t change how we human beings prophet from violence and from divisions like divorce and politics. What I can change is being more responsible for myself; becoming less reactive and more peaceful.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control and faithfulness. All human beings can improve on this fruit. I’m praying for a bumper crop of love, joy and peace… in me!!! I am reassured that in tragedies like Orlando and Dallas and Baton Rouge, people still come together like they never knew they could.
God is more interested in our return to prayer than we are. It isn’t about the sins of others, but about my sins and my need for mercy. We simply need to listen and spend time with Jesus and continue to ask him to teach us how to pray better than we did yesterday. It all begins and ends with love. But our prayer will be uncomfortable.
I often take long walks on the beach and I pray. Often this song wells up from my soul:
There is a longing in our hearts, O Love, for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts for love, we only find in you o God.
For justice, for mercy, for freedom hear our prayer.
In sorrow, in grief, be near hear our prayer o God.
For wisdom, for courage, for comfort… hear our prayer.
In weakness, in fear, be near hear our prayer o God.
For healing, for wholeness, for new life… hear our prayer.
In sickness, in death, be near hear our prayer O God.
Lord save us, take pity. Light in our darkness.
We call you. We wait. Be near, hear our prayer O God.
Song by Anne Quigley 1992
If you pray like this, I am confident that God, the Father, will not only hear your prayer, but answer it.
As a country, many knock at our door. Many are praying that we open our doors and see. Once I saw the poorest of poor in Haiti, Jamaica, the special needs and Honduras… I realized that I needed to bang on the doors of my friends for some bread (food and money). When confronted with over 1500 casualties and 81 deaths in Fallujah Iraq, I realized the 10,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines were pounding on the door of my heart for spiritual bread to make sense of the senseless. I was depleted and bankrupt of mercy. As long as we profit from wars, we will never be able to listen to the prophets. Although Jesus has given me an abundance of Bread and Blood, there came a time when I was the one pounding on the doors of my friends late at night for my friends and their families in need. I am still pounding!
In other words, my prayer is that I have the courage to open the locked door of my heart tonight and see the plight of the poor and hungry. Sometimes I have to be the beggar for the hungry, refugee, oppressed and poor like the friends who come to me in the middle of the night. God will provide.
Ah the dangers of praying as Jesus teaches us…
Do you think God might answer this prayer?
O my! & wow!