THE TRUE PRAYER IS PERSISTENT HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

 

PERSISTENT PRAYER 2

Two kids visiting with their grandfather during the summer vacation decides to pray before bedtime as they usually do in their home. The first kid starts by asking God to help him be a good kid. Immediately after, the second child takes over, “God, please make grandpa to buy me a bicycle.” He repeats the same prayer several times and in a loud voice. Then the first kid says to him, “Hey, Jason you don’t need to shout, God is not deaf” but he replies and says to him in a low tone, “Tim, God may not be deaf, but grandpa is hard of hearing, and he needs to hear this prayer.”. You know what? The second kid got his bicycle gift the next day; their grandpa would not like to go another night with that kind of prayer that kept him awake.

Some time ago, someone approached me to decry her challenges in life. She had been praying about something for a long time, and it appeared that God would not answer her. She concluded by saying that she is tired of praying. By this assertion, the lady was implying that every prayer should have a certain quantity and degree to elicit an answer. Our reflection today would explore the power of persistence in prayer using the instances in the First Reading and the Gospel.

The First Reading (Genesis 18:20-32) tells us about Abraham’s intercessory prayer on behalf of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abrahams makes a case for the innocent souls living in the city with a persistent supplication keeping in mind the safety of his nephew and his family, though without mentioning them. The Gospel Reading (Matt. 13:1-9) tells us about the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on prayer, which also contains the Lord’s Prayer. We shall look at some of the highpoints of the readings and how they relate to the theme of our reflection.

Prayer is a dialogue with our Father

Prayer is essentially a dialogue between humanity and divinity. We have an example with the cordial discourse between Abraham and God about the sin and impending destruction of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. One could notice the fluidity of their interaction and how Abraham could express himself to God with faith, trust, and hope. In the Gospel Reading, our Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that prayer is an engagement with our Father.

There is a significant difference between the communicative interaction one could have with a loving father and the one with a stranger. By asking us to call God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ invites us to change the dynamics of our relationship with God by reaching out to Him in a more intimate and involving manner. Jesus Christ refers to God as Father (John 17:1; Luke 23:34). The Father, in turn, calls Jesus Christ His Son (Mark 9:7; Matt. 3:17).

God is not only our Lord but also our Father. The Father attribute is one of the characteristics that differentiates Him from other gods. Through prayer, we have a great privilege that gives us access to God. Furthermore, relating with Him as a Father gives us an enormous privilege which shows how close He is to us. The book of Deuteronomy (4:7) supported this idea when it asked, “what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him?”

Prayer is incomplete without persistence!

In the First Reading, we could see Abraham reaching out to God with unrelenting persistence as he pleads not only for his nephew and his family of three but also for some probable sinless folks in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pushes God beyond limit in his prayers. However, God could not even find ten individuals without sin in the city.

In Lord’s Prayer, we read the following among others, “give us this day our daily bread.” Many scripture scholars and theologians have various interpretations for this section of the Lord’s prayer. However, for this reflection, it means that we should have a daily commitment to prayers; put in another way, it invites us to pray persistently every day.

In the Gospel today, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us the story about someone who goes to ask a friend for a favor at night and who would not give up asking even when the friend refuses to oblige with the excuse that it was very late. He concludes by instructing his disciples to continue asking, seeking, and knocking, and they would receive, find, and have an open door which nobody can close (Acts 3:8).

From the story of Abraham’s dialogue with God and our Lord’s instruction, we could understand that God is delighted when we persistently bother Him with our prayers. St. Paul writing to the Ephesians (6:18) says, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”  In the First Letter to the Colossians (4:2) St. Paul says, be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God.

Moving Forward: Keep Praying!

You start perishing when you stop praying, so don’t give up. There are times in our lives when we have so many reasons to give up because things fail to turn up the way we want. Think about those moments when you have more questions than answers, moments when things get worse than better. If that man in the parable gave up when his friend said “no” for the first time it would have been a failed mission. We often fail in life because we give up asking when we should hold on.

The liturgy of the word of this Sunday is encouraging us to keep the candle of prayer burning from dawn to dust; in fact, prayer should become for us a way of life and constant exercise, as it is our veritable line of communication with God.  Let us keep in mind that prayer has no time limit; it instead involves steadfast patience. David says, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

Have a beautiful day, and may God bless you more!

Fr. Bonnie.

 

2 Comments on “THE TRUE PRAYER IS PERSISTENT HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

  1. Many thanks Father.Prayer dispels the forces of darkness.Prayer can also bring back, glorious days and better projects.

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