From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
October 16 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Our Psalm reminds us of the source of all that we need – the One who created everything. When we trust in God, and place our needs before Him, he will answer. I am reminded of these words spoken by Jimmy Valvano, as he battled cancer in his life. “Don’t give up – don’t ever give up!” We see this attitude of determination, focus and trust in our first reading. It seemed as though the Israelites had been facing one hardship after another since leaving Egypt. And now they were to do battle with Amalek, a great warrior who struck fear into all those he faced. Tensions were high. Things may have looked hopeless. But Moses knew, it was God who provides for our every need, and responds to our prayers with the help we need to overcome our challenges in life. “Don’t give up – don’t ever give up!”
Wow! It sounds so simple. But I must admit, it doesn’t always feel that way. Our challenges in life can become overwhelming. We wonder, “Where is our God? Could he be a little quicker to help? Is he really leading us in the right direction?” We feel like the Israelites wandering in the desert. Prayer doesn’t automatically take care of all our problems and make them disappear. In our second reading, St. Paul reminds us to “remain faithful to what we have learned and believed” because we know from whom we learned it.”
Prayer helps us to stay faithful, trusting that “God discerns the reflections and thoughts of our hearts”, and provides to us all that we need. When we begin to weaken, if we but turn to others for help, he will provide us the support to lift our prayers – just as he did for Moses.
Like Moses, we are called to open ourselves fully in trust to God’s will for our lives – his Divine Providence. We must stay strong in our prayer, being persistent in seeking His will. When we weaken in our resolve, we turn to others to help lift our prayers up to God with confidence, for we know “the word of God is living and effective.” Prayer is not easy – but it is effective. Our payer needs to be persistent and not simply convenient.
As the saying goes, “we need to pray as though everything depends on God, and work as though everything depends on you.” When we pray, seeking God’s will rather than our own, and we pray with persistence, we trust in the presence of the Spirit and the hope of our Lord. Prayer begins to be simply a part of who we are as we look to God to help shape our lives. It permeates our day as we come to grow in humility recognizing the need for God in all things. Persistence in prayer doesn’t change God – it changes us to recognize our need for God. This is what our readings call us to this week – to prayer, to persistence, to the truth of scripture and the Church, and to faithfulness to God’s Divine Providence. All of these tie together, and are grounded first in our understanding of scripture and Church teaching, recognizing what is true and right. This allows us to understand God’s will for us (Divine Providence) when we pray. As our prayer evolves we move from “My will be done,” to “your will be done!”
As Vincentians, we must carry both the simplicity of the truth of faith with us when we minister to our neighbors in need, as well as a persistence and patience in prayer that seeks God’s will and justice in all situations. Our faith and trust in God, shown through humility and mercy, is the greatest gift we give to others. Prayer must permeate everything we do! Do I prayer before, during and after every home visit? Do I truly trust in God, seeking His will in all things rather than trying to convince Him of the importance of my request? Do I look to understand God’s will by first understanding His teachings that I might know Him? Am I patient and persistent in my prayer, offering it in truth and seeking truth in return?
Lord Jesus, increase my understanding of your Word. Allow me the grace to remain faithful to your teachings, seeking always to accept and embrace your will for me and others. Give me the strength to remain steadfast in my prayers seeking your will not mine. Allow me to join my prayers to those of my neighbors that together we may strengthen each other in seeking and accepting your will. We pray all of this in your name. Amen