Sunday, October 16, 2016

Why we Should Persist in Faith-Filled Prayer

Luke 18:1, 7-8  (NRSV): Persistent Prayer
Then Jesus told them . . . about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.
“. . . . And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Prayer is our way to mentally and physically connect with God; it is a way of hearing from and speaking to our Lord. Prayer comes easy when we are in a spiritually positive place or what St. Ignatius of Loyola calls “spiritual consolation.” When we are spiritually desolate, however, prayer can be a struggle. And our lives, sometimes, can become so busy and full of noise that prayer becomes a passing thought or a quick recitation void of meaning. The most challenging aspect of prayer often can be the answers God gives. But our persistence and acceptance of God’s will for us is one of the weighty tests of faith.

In this passage from Luke’s gospel, Jesus teaches us about the necessity for persistent prayer. For God, Jesus poses in the parable of the persistent widow, “will quickly grant justice to [his people]” (8). Jesus calls us to tireless, faith-filled prayer. Notice that Jesus emphasizes the presence of “faith” in our prayer by stating, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Persistent prayer, then, requires faith in God, even when we are spiritually bereft. Our faith, moreover, moves us to be patient with God, knowing that in his time, and according to his will, he will answer our prayers.  At the time of God’s answer, we may not like it, or, worse, we may even think he has not answered.

But sometimes the most challenging answer to prayer is God’s silence. In these moments of silence, God gives us the grace and freedom to make tough choices. And these tough choices call us to operate in a constant state of prayer. When Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane, for example, he petitions the Father three times to take away the cup of his pending suffering, but Jesus prays to the Father, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). God’s implied answer to his only son is that he must suffer, die, and rise for each one of us. In Gethsemane, we don’t hear the Father’s answer to Jesus’ prayer; we only witness Jesus’ quiet, self-giving acceptance.

In faith, then, we are called to accept all of God’s answers to prayer, even the ones we don’t like. We should persist in prayer like Jesus does in the garden before his Passion, and we should tirelessly commit ourselves like the woman in front of the unjust judge in the above parable. We serve a loving, just God who hears our prayers and will answer them quickly according to his will: Jesus promises this. But we are called, as Jesus reminds us, to persevere in prayer and have faith in God’s answers, even the silent, tough ones.

Please join me in prayer:
Heavenly Father, I am impatient at times and weaker than you call me to be in prayer. But I trust in your love and yearn for communion with you in every moment of life. Please grant me the grace to persevere in faith and prayer so that I can love you with all my heart and be a better witness of your love to my neighbor. I offer this prayer in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.