Genesis 18:20 – 32
Colossians 2:12 – 14
One of the first things that religious leaders do is to teach their disciples how to pray. This is true of John the Baptist, Jesus, St. Paul of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, etc. It is what parents do for their children. One of my nieces wrote to tell me of how much her three year old daughter loves to pray. She prays before bed at night, at meals (home and in public), and if the Spirit moves her at the check out line in the grocery store. She includes everyone in her prayers. These are her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and even Dora the Explorer!
In response to the disciples request to learn to pray. First, Jesus teaches his disciples the Our Father. In the early church only the baptized were permitted to recite it. The "Abba" Jesus uses in this prayer signals to us our relationship to God is an intimate one. God is supreme and it is God’s will we seek. Second, Jesus emphasizes the importance of persevering in prayer. This is not to change God’s mind, but it is to discover what it is that God’s mind might be. The salutariness of prayer is often the change that takes place in us. Third, Jesus speaks of the effectiveness of prayer. We are assured that our prayers will be heard. God is willing to give, we must ask. God is willing to reveal, we must seek. God is willing to answer prayers, we must pray.
This passage reminds us like Jesus we have an extraordinary relationship with God. To the extent we allow God’s holiness enter into our lives is God glorified. Jesus reminds us it is not just perseverance in prayer that succeeds, it is friendship with God. Friendship is mentioned four times in Luke’s brief passage. The neighbor answered his neighbor’s request not just because the latter persisted in knocking on the door, but because they were foremost friends. Today’s readings reminds us, a generosity of heart is needed for prayers to be answered. Abraham (Genesis 18:20-32) pleaded for the elderly and innocent in Sodom and Gomorrah. It is also the forgiving heart that allows God to enter and answer prayers.
Fr. Kenneth O’Malley, C.P. is the local superior of Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.