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October 16th, 2022

     Pray without becoming weary!  That is the essence of the Gospel challenge this weekend. Jesus uses the example of a persistent widow who wears out a judge in search for justice against her advisory. The story tells us that the judge really does not care about people. This stands in stark contrast to our God who cares deeply about us.

     We hear another parable on prayer next weekend comparing the Pharisee (religious leader) with the Tax Collector (publican). These two weekends in particular remind us of the importance of prayer and, particularly as Catholics, the variety of prayer forms that our faith tradition offers.

     There are classic definitions of prayer and classic questions about it as well. Often people will comment that God does not hear their prayers. “Why even pray, because God doesn’t answer my prayers.” It is a statement that I have heard a lot.

    God alone knows the answer to this, but here are some things to consider when you feel that God is not listening to or answering your prayers.

  • You might not be asking for the right thing.

Our prayer comes from our heart, soul and situation. We may think that we have the solution, or the ONLY solution or concern to a problem or issue, and that just might not be best for all, or God’s will.

  • It is not time yet. 

We may be on the right track, but our request is not timely. Patience is a virtue and the widow in today’s Gospel is an example of persistence that can supplement patience.

  • Perhaps God has already answered prayer.

I am reminded of the philosophy of Sir Mick Jaeger and the Rolling Stones. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need.” The fact that trying is interjected into Jaeger’s philosophy resembles the persistence of the widow in today’s Gospel parable.

     Some additional perspectives to consider when you feel frustrated, abandoned or ignored in your prayer…

  • You have the ability to address that for which you are praying.

For a while, there was a popular saying, “Let go and let God.” I think I understand the gist of this saying, and that it helps us to yield to God’s will, but I have truly heard people say that their prayer was answered when they stepped up or put effort into addressing an issue or concern leading to a feeling that prayer had been heard.

  • Consider that others may be praying for things that stand in stark contrast to your petitions.

One of my seminary professors introduced this idea for us. What happens when a group of people in a rural parish are praying for rain because the fields are dry and the crops at risk? In the same parish there is a group of people praying that it doesn’t rain because the parish picnic is in a few days. Whose prayer does God hear, and why wouldn’t God answer the prayers of the ones who did not get what they wanted? That also sets up an image of God who plays favorites.

     Let us also consider some of the language of our Adventures in Grace as it relates to prayer. It is a question with a couple of different context. The question is, “Where’s the grace?”  It can be asked in desperation, doubting that there is any grace to be found. It can also be asked out of genuine curiosity. When we inquire about grace genuinely, the question can form the basis for our prayer moving forward.

     Perhaps you have heard me say once or twice that I really only have one prayer these days and that is, “Give me what I need Lord to integrate your will into my life.” I supplement that with a simple prayer that are the first words I pray each day: “God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.”

     Please be attentive to a resource that we are providing as our Tenderness Series of AIG continues on Wednesday, November 9. Bill and JoAnne McElroy will speak on “Tenderness in Prayer” focusing on Contemplative Prayer. PLEASE do not be intimidated by contemplative prayer. It is really quite easy to do and has many physical as well as spiritual benefits. The McElroys will both explain and give examples of this rich form of prayer. Please join us!!!

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