Widsom 18:14-16; 19:6-9
The Need to Pray with Faith
God’s call to fidelity is a call to remember; and a call to remember is a call to trust in God; and a call to trust in divine providence is a call to pray unceasingly. In effect, today’s scripture readings invite us to "remember the marvels the Lord has done" for us (psalm) and to be faithful to his "all-powerful word" (first reading). For we, who are people of faith, are a people who are called to live our covenanting relationship with our Creator and Savior by remembering and celebrating his abiding and delivering presence in our midst.
To live a life of unfailing and unhesitant prayer is the human way to trust in divine mercy, for the more we call out to God in prayer, the more we come to trust in God’s ways and accept God’s will in our lives. It is when we remain and trust in God’s all-powerful word that we come to "know the truth," and the truth sets us free (John 8:31-32) from our fears of the spiritual and human evils of oppression, injustice, segregation, and hatred. That is why in today’s gospel Jesus encourages us to "pray always without becoming weary," for God secures "the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night." In other words, Jesus is telling us that a life of unfailing and unhesitant prayer is necessary to confirm us in our faith in the Son of Man, precisely because our Christian faith leads us to pray to God in Jesus’ name.
The aforesaid reminds me of Henry Clay Trumbull (1830-1903), an American clergyman and author, who pioneered the Sunday School Movement and used to say: "Not prayer without faith, nor faith without prayer, but prayer in faith, is the cost of spiritual gifts and graces." That is to say that faith and prayer are inseparable, for the former brings about the latter, and the latter asks for the former, as St. Paul the Apostle tells us in Romans 10:13-14. No wonder Jesus also asks us at the end of today’s gospel, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Perhaps Jesus suggests that he is expecting to find us living a life-giving faith that abides in prayer.
Jesus’ question may lead us to evaluate our experience of faith and our prayer life by asking ourselves a few questions. On Jesus’ second glorious coming, will we be found faithfully praying to God in his name? Do I persevere in prayer and remain faithful to the gospel even in the face of trials and hardships? Or do I get discouraged and therefore question my faith and stop praying when things don’t go the way I want or I don’t get the expected results? Do I stay with Jesus watching and praying to avoid the near occasion of sin, as he asks his disciples (Mark 14:38)? How do I reflect and pray about my experience of life and faith?
Fr. Alfredo Ocampo, C.P. gives retreats and parish missions. He is stationed at Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.