From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
July 24 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I have often marveled at the courage of Abraham to haggle with God in our first reading this week. It is the well-known story of Sodom and Gomorrah. How often I have found myself wanting to bargain in the same way – or to question God about his intentions. I must admit that many times His ways are not my ways. Our first reading though is not really about haggling about the fate of a sinful people. It is about a faithful man trying to discern the will of God. Through questions and conversation with God, Abraham gains greater clarity as to how God thinks. He seeks not so much to change the mind of God, but rather to understand God’s will that he might align with that will.
In our gospel, the disciples ask Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus can be constantly found in prayer throughout his ministry. Seeing this, the apostles sought to learn how to properly pray. This is what are readings are truly about this week. Prayer as the centerpiece of our lives and our relationship with God. And not just the importance of prayer, but the importance of perseverance and persistence in our prayer. Prayer must be at the forefront of each of our lives. Authentic prayer recognizes who Jesus is and submits humbly to His will. It recognizes that it is only through His will that we are able to accomplish anything as He is the source of all goodness.
Both of these readings bring to the forefront that God does listen to our prayers. He listens with a merciful and compassionate ear. He desires that we enter into conversation with him, that we seek His will for our lives, that he may give us the Holy Spirit as our guide. Through persistence, like Abraham, we come to understand His will that we might embrace it. He graces us with His help and mercy when we ask Him. “Lord, on the day I asked for help, you answered me.”
We enter into prayer first and foremost through frequent attendance at the Liturgy of the Mass. Through this prayer he feeds us with his Eucharist. Prayer should carry forward from the Mass into our daily lives. St. Vincent DePaul said “Give me a person of prayer and that person will be capable of everything!” But without it, we are capable of nothing. Pope Francis has said “I do not believe in holiness without prayer.” It is only through our prayer life that we come to know God and open our hearts to His Word. Prayer should be the defining characteristic of who we are as we say Abba, Father!”
As Vincentians, prayer is essential to guide us to right decisions and to avoid burnout. Without prayer, we can easily be overwhelmed by the need before us. Prayer must be in all things we do. Especially as we visit our neighbors in need, we need to pray before during and after each visit. Prayer should be a part of all of our meetings. How faithful am I to prayer before, during and after home visits? How do I make prayer a consistent part of my life?
Lord Jesus, teach me to pray. Give me the humility to understand that you are the source of all that I need. Help me seek your will for myself and for our neighbors in need. Help me to embrace that which you place before me with boldness and passion. We pray all of this in your name. Amen