Gospel Reflection for 17th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – July 24th 2016
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, 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 indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
People talk often about prayer. They wonder what it does, how they should pray, if they are praying right and if it is worthwhile.
INCREASE OF FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE
Jesus encourages to pray with persistence. Not just to keep asking, but to have a rhythm of prayer in our lives – times when we pray, places, spontaneity during the day. He also gives an indication of what it does for you. It brings an increase in faith, hope and love. We may not get the specific intention we ask for, but we always get the Holy Spirit. In asking, knocking on God’s door, in seeking, we always find God opening to us, giving us something, and finding a new rootedness in live.
The first gift of prayer is to know the love of God. I have never left prayer the poorer than when I went.
Prayer increases our trust in God. That he wants our good and is with us in love. Sometimes giving something very specific but never giving nothing. Mother Teresa’s prayer times were full of darkness but this darkness gave her the energy to love the very poor.
So pray for what you need and then leave the prayer with God, to be answered as he can. We can ask with a full heart, hoping for an answer, but knowing always we can trust in our God in Jesus Christ.
If we wonder if we are praying right, we look for the fruits in our lives. If we receive the Holy Spirit in prayer we will find mercy, generosity and love appealing to us, and try to live that way.
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger