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Relying on Prayer
Thursday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Opening Prayer: Father, I believe that you are loving and generous. Please send your Holy Spirit to me. Give me a spirit of abandonment to you and help me to rely on you through prayer.
- Letting Go of Self-Reliance: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus used two analogies to help his disciples understand how prayer works. First he spoke of knocking on a friend’s door to ask for a favor. The first step of the one who knocks is noticing that he has a need that he cannot fulfill. Sometimes it is difficult to admit when we cannot take care of our own needs. When we depend on God, he will act: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5). What would it look like if we focused on trusting the Lord no matter what the circumstances?
- Persevere in Prayer: Notice the tenacity of the one who needed the bread. Jesus said if the man continued to “knock” or pray for what he needs, that he would receive it. God desires that we continue to come to him with our needs. We are called to persevere in prayer. When we are persistent in prayer, we strengthen our attachment to God and lessen the habit of self-reliance. Prayer is not a passive activity: it is active and effective. Prayer does not change God or persuade him to act in a way that is outside of his will. Instead, prayer changes us. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”
- Expect Good Things: The second analogy Jesus used was that of a father who gives good things. He used hyperbole to demonstrate this point. Of course no good father would give his children snakes or scorpions! But sometimes we do expect less than good things to come from God. If we ask, God will give us the greatest good we can receive; the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Sometimes we can fail to lack the trust that God will truly provide for us. How is God calling us to trust more fully in his loving providence?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I adore your generous heart. I believe that you want to give me everything I truly need. I am sorry for when I have been self-reliant and not depended on you to provide for me, and instead tried to take care of myself. I am sorry for when I have doubted your goodness or power to meet my needs. Thank you for all the good gifts in my life—they are countless! Help me to let go of self-reliance and give me the grace I need to abandon myself to your loving mercy. Jesus, I trust in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the ways that the Father has provided for me and give him thanks. I will examine my conscience for times when I have been self-reliant.
For Further Reflection: Begin reading the spiritual classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade, S.J.
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.