Entrance Antiphon: Ps 68(67):6-7, 36 — “God is in His holy place, God who unites those who dwell in His house; He Himself gives might and strength to His people.”
First Reading: Gn 18:20-32 — “Let not my Lord grow angry if I speak.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8 — “Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me.”
Second Reading: Col 2:12-14 — “God has brought you to life along with Christ, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”
Alleluia: Rom 8:15bc — “Alleluia, alleluia. You have received a Spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, Father. Alleluia, alleluia.”
Gospel: Lk 11:1-13 — “Ask and you will receive.”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 103(102):2 — “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all His benefits.”
Little children can be amazingly persistent about some things. If they want a new toy or a sweet treat … they ask, and ask, and ask … often to the point of greatly annoying their parents. But children (and all of us) learn through persistence. And children (and all of us) achieve through persistence. The important thing to remember, though, is that the point isn’t the persistence itself … the point is gaining what’s desired. The First Reading and the Gospel this weekend speak of persistence. However, in both readings the important thing isn’t the persistence, but the result … fruitful prayer. The readings focus on where prayer takes us … the thrust of prayer is life, which ultimately leads to eternal life.
In the Gospel, Jesus “teaches us to pray.” Most important, He teaches us to Whom we should pray … to God who is a generous and loving Father. He also teaches us what we should pray for … not just for immediate needs (“our daily bread”) but more important for ultimate needs … for the furthering of God’s kingdom … for the gift of forgiveness … and for the protection from anything that would take us from God. It is persistence in prayer that brings us deeper into our relationship with God and opens us to receive these “good gifts” God offers us. It is persistence in prayer that establishes and maintains the kind of relationship with God that assures us of the ultimate goal of life … eternal happiness with our divine Father.
Having said all that, let me also say there is nothing wrong with praying for specific needs … after all, we do it at every Mass during the Prayers of the Faithful … not to mention during our own personal and daily prayers of petition ... at least I hope we do. This weekend’s Gospel challenges us to go beyond specific needs and to get to the larger picture … to focus on the gifts God offers us always … in prayer and often in surprising and unexpected ways. What inspires confidence in us is not whether God gives us what we specifically ask for in prayer. Our confidence comes from the Spirit who dwells within and establishes a most intimate relationship between God and us … a shared life.
Unlike small children who seem to have a capacity to stay endlessly with some tasks, most of need to develop a habit of daily prayer. With such busy schedules, this can be difficult. As I noted last week, choosing a specific time and being persistent about honoring that time for prayer really helps. Also, as I suggested last week, begin with small periods of time and work your way to longer stretches of time, much like a marathon runner begins with short distances and gradually works up to longer distances.
It’s a simple fact that friendships and relationships can’t survive without regular communication. Prayer in one of its simplest definitions is communication with God. Just imagine how strong your relationship with God can grow if only you spend some time with Him each and every day in prayer.