Praying with the Heart of a Child

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Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

 

John 16:23b-28

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. “I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” 

 

Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for this moment to reflect on your words and what they mean in my life. Please speak to me clearly, not in figures of speech, so that I may obediently follow your will today.

 

Encountering Christ:

 

  1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice?: At first glance, Jesus appears to be saying that God the Father will grant anything we ask of him. What a great deal for us! In our human brokenness, we might then be tempted to think of the name of Jesus as a magical charm. However, we know from experience that our prayers sometimes go unanswered. What we are asking for seems good—the conversion of a friend, an adult child’s return to the faith, healing for a gravely ill person, peace in our community—and if nothing happens, we are tempted to believe that our prayers make no difference. On the other hand, we know that Jesus always speaks the truth, and that he loves us abundantly, so we must come to the conclusion that there is a much deeper meaning to his promise, “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
  2. In the Name of Jesus: We pray in the name of Jesus when we acknowledge our intrinsic brokenness and utter unworthiness for any reward from God, when we “have faith like a child” (Luke 17:18), and when we realize that without Christ we are nothing. Jesus gave us the blueprint for all prayer when he taught the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples. In every prayer, we are to start by honoring God as Our Lord and Father; we are to bless his name. We are to ask that his kingdom comes to us here on earth, and that we follow his will, just as in the kingdom of heaven. We then are to ask him to give us what we need for the day. We are to ask for protection from evil and temptation, and the grace to forgive those who have hurt us. When we pray as he taught us, we pray in his name. 
  3. Love and Faith: Jesus says the Father loves us, and the Father also loves that we believe in Jesus. When we pray to the Father from a place of faith and humility, we more clearly see our spiritual reality. We can accept that our requests may actually not be for our good or the good of those for whom we pray, that our timing is not God’s timing, that what’s unbearable to us may in fact be part of God’s plan, and that God can use our brokenness and sorrow and pain to bring about his good even when we cannot see it. When Job was utterly broken, his possessions stolen or destroyed, and his children dead, he blessed the name of the Lord. This humble and upright man of the Old Testament never knew the Messiah, yet he was a shining example of what it means to pray in his name, acknowledging that all we have comes from God, and that our faith in his sovereign goodness cannot be swayed by circumstance. Like Job, we cry out in suffering: “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!” In spite of everything, Job did not sin or accuse God of doing wrong (Job 1:21-22). We must beg God to allow us to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This attitude is beyond our human ability. To pray in his name is to beg for the grace to praise God and trust God with childlike dependence. We will then be able to pray as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane: Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Ultimately, this is how we pray in his name. 

 

Conversing with Christ: Oh Lord, help my unbelief. Unite me to you and your divine will. Help me to place my complete trust in you, and to praise you in all circumstances.

 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of faith, surrendering my most difficult concern to you. I will meditate upon the verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

For Further Reflection: “How to Improve Your Prayer Life” with Father Mike Schmitz.

 

Cathy Stamper lives in Maryland and has five adult children with her husband of thirty years. They owned and operated a family business for twenty-nine years. She is a member of Regnum Christi and has been active in the Leadership Training Program and Walking With Purpose.

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