View all Gospel Reflections |
Pray without Ceasing
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time, the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Opening Prayer: Father, you want me to come to you with all that I am: my hopes and desires, my fears and sorrows, my faults and failures. You never tire of listening to me, so why do I spend so little time speaking with you? Lord, I believe that you are my creator who loves me. I hope in your goodness and providential care for me. I love you and desire to love you more. Grant me the grace to deepen my relationship with you through my prayer.
- Prayer Is Necessary: While God can do anything, he chooses most often to work through our prayers and our actions. He gives us the privilege of cooperating with him in his ongoing action in the world in both these ways. Prayer is also a necessary pathway to deeper faith. In prayer, we open our hearts to his heart, sharing our hopes and needs, our fears and joys. We tell him all those things we would tell our closest friend—and more. He knows it all already, but as we share it, our faith is deepened. We come to an experience of his tender love for us, individually and personally. When it seems that the Lord is slow to answer (or answers “no”), he gives us the chance to trust him and to more deeply desire and treasure the things he does. The Catechism asks us to consider that “The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him” (CCC 2560).
- Pray Always: In this parable, the Lord teaches us to pray without ceasing. We may echo the reaction the authors of the Catechism anticipated, “Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all other things they have to do: they ‘don’t have the time’” (CCC 2726). In contrast, the Catechism insists, “Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the Kingdom revealed to ‘little children,’ to the servants of Christ…It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the Kingdom…may influence the march of history, but is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations (CCC 2660). In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, St. Paul VI recommends that the laity use the “spiritual aids” the Church offers “in such a way that while correctly fulfilling their secular duties in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate union with Christ from their life but rather performing their work according to God’s will they grow in that union” (n. 4). Nevertheless St. Gregory of Nazianzus insists that while we “must remember God more often than we draw breath” it is also true that “we cannot pray ‘at all times’ if we do not pray at specific times…” (CCC 2697). Just as in our human relationships, Christ wants to be invited into our daily realities, and our times of focused, attentive daily prayer.
- The Family and Prayer: Jesus learned to pray from Joseph and Mary, and our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others need to learn to pray from us. “The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacraments of Marriage, the family is the ‘domestic church’ where God’s children learn to pray ‘as the church’ and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church’s living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit” (CCC 2685). When we pray regularly with our family, we are calling on the power of Almighty God into our midst and we are teaching the younger ones how important it is to make God the central person in our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to know you more deeply—not just knowing about you through my intellect but knowing you heart-to-heart. Help me see your presence and action in the events of my day and the people whom I encounter. Help me listen with my mind and heart that I may know and desire to live your will in my life. I want to remember that prayer is about a real relationship with you. And, Lord, help me share the gift of prayer with others, especially the children in my family.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will review my prayer life to see how I can better enter into true conversation with you, and I will invite someone to pray with me.
For Further Reflection: Watch Fr. John Bartunek in the Four “C’s” of Meditation or read the section in the Catechism on meditation (2705-2708).
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
What did you think?
Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.