Constant Prayer a reflection by Mgr. Paul Watson
by Brian Ingram
Constant Prayer – A reflection on Luke 18:1-8 (29th Sunday of the Year)
Jesus tells a parable about praying constantly and not losing heart. But why would we lose heart? Probably, the reason is that the answer to our prayer is delayed or seemingly not answered at all. The danger of losing heart arises because we can add another unspoken rider to our prayer. It can become a sort of test as to whether God really loves us. If our prayer is not answered, we can begin to doubt God’s love, and even, to doubt whether prayer really makes any difference. The problem with this way of thinking is that is never really changes. Even if prayer is answered, we are not necessarily convinced of God’s love. This is revealed when we pray again for something. The same thought can underlie our prayer – if you love me, O God, you will answer my prayer. “If you love me …”. This is not really true prayer – it is more like bargaining.
Jesus wants to teach us a whole different way of thinking.
True prayer is based on our already been convinced and assured of God’s complete love for us. God’s love is not proved by his answering my prayers, especially if it is a matter of God fulfilling my will! God’s love is proved by Jesus and what he has revealed and accomplished for us. His sacrificial death on the Cross, his Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit has drawn us into the life and mystery of God’s love. Jesus took on himself our sins and sinful nature in order that our lives would no longer be characterised by a sort of distance from God, but rather an intimacy of love. We enter into the the knowledge and experience of the Father’s love by entering into the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is all about conversion and transformation – we are raised as new creations; children of the Father, confident in his love.
From this position, as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, we can utterly rely on the fact that God will provide all that we need (“give this day our daily bread”). Jesus also taught that any father would give his children what they needed, how much more will our heavenly Father!
Perhaps the delay we sometimes, even often, experience is a way that the Father is teaching and leading us to place our trust in him more fully – to reach a point of resting in his love, instead of the anxious restlessness we experience while waiting for our prayer to be heard and answered. Sometimes this involves being willing to surrender what we think we need and letting God, by the provision he does make, show us what he knows we need.
The truth is that the real mystery and purpose of prayer is to train and deepen us in our relationship with God, rather than a technique for achieving our own will..
November 13, 2016
November 13, 2016