Prayer is a relationship

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XXIX-C, 20 October 2019

Exodus 17:8-13 ><}}}*> 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ><}}}*> Luke 18:1-8

A pilgrim writing petitions inside a “cave” chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. George’s Church in Madaba, Jordan. May 2019.

We have seen these past two weeks the importance of faith in our lives. The other Sunday Jesus assured us that faith is a gift freely given to us by the Father that enables us to make it through this life’s many challenges. It is also faith that heals and saves us as seen in the healing of the ten lepers last Sunday.

For the next three Sundays beginning today, faith would still be the main theme of our gospel but, each week we are offered with its different aspects that enrich and fulfill our lives.

Today, Jesus shows us that where there is faith, there is always a relationship that springs forth nourished by prayer.

Jesus told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'”

Luke 18:1-5
Mirador, Baguio City, January 2019.

Everybody is saying we should pray. Especially us priests.

But rarely do we explain why we should pray. Worst of all, many among us teach the misconception that we have to pray so God would pour out his blessings upon us, the so-called “health and wealth” preaching to collect more donations!

Prayer is not merely for asking favors from God because he knows what we need and grants these even before we ask him or even without us asking him. Praying for special favors is the lowest form of prayer, the one at the bottom, if you remember our acronym “ACTS”: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Prayer is primarily about relationships, of keeping our ties with God closer and personal. It is an expression of our faith in God, something innate within us that we must cultivate for it to blossom and bear much fruit for us.

Prayers do not change things and situations like typhoons and earthquakes.

Prayers change us – our person and attitudes in dealing with life’s blows. It makes us more humane, more kind, more like God to whom we cling to when we pray.

See how the widow pleaded to the heartless judge because she not only believed she deserved justice but she saw a glimmer of humanity in him that even for a small chance he would render her with a just decision because she’s a fellow human being.

And she succeeded in pursuing it!

The widow had such deep faith that the evil judge would recognize their “link” or relationship as humans.

This we find clearer in Jesus explaining the parable.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa at Palo, Leyte, September 2019.

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Luke 18:6-8

The title “Lord” is a post-Resurrection address given to Jesus Christ by the disciples when their faith had been deepened by the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus is introducing something more profound about the necessity to pray always without becoming weary – we pray to be with God, to be one in him by being “justified” or being saved!

Here now is the deeper reason why we must pray always: to be one with God.

And from that comes the crux of the gospel today when the Lord asked, “will he find faith on earth when he comes?”

That question sheds light to the parable which is more than praying unceasingly to God for some favors but to deepen that faith and relationship with God who is our very life, our healing, and our salvation.

That question sheds light to the parable which is about the need to constantly reawaken that faith with prayers as expression of our deep love for Jesus Christ, himself the “word who became flesh” we must proclaim always until he comes again according to St. Paul in the second reading.

That question by Jesus challenges our faith to be like Moses and Joshua remaining focused with God in prayer as we battle life’s many trials and difficulties, challenges that sometimes force many of us to abandon him or change our religious affiliations as if there are different Gods!

Finally, that question probes our hearts not only for faith but also for love for God expressed in our prayers. Where there is faith, there is always relationship, and therefore, there is also love.

And here, we do not merely mean reciting prayers but having a “prayer life” – a communion and intimacy with the Lord cultivated in a disciplined life of prayer because people who truly love always talk and communicate with each other.

Most of all, people who love and have faith in each other always spend time together even in silence. Just like in prayer!

Handle life with prayer always. Have a blessed week ahead!

“Losing One’s Head and Self in Prayer”. Photo by Ms. JJ Jimeno of GMA-7 News at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice Parish, UP Diliman, QC, June 2019.

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