As we begin to reflect on this weekend’s readings, it is important to remember that Jesus is responding to the scholar of the law that approached him a few weeks ago and asked, What must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus replied you shall love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to teach us that our duty to love neighbor has no limits. We are called to love everyone, period. Today, he continues to teach us how to love God by teaching us how to pray.
When we pray do we believe that someone is listening? It seems obvious doesn’t it? But if we really think about it, this is something we all have doubted at some point. Or maybe some of us, right now, are doubting this weekend. Is God really listening to me? Does God really care? Why aren’t my prayers being answered?
Prayer is mysterious. And it also challenges our faith. But its vital for our faith. It’s where we strengthen our relationship with God, receive from Him what we need, and pray for ourselves and others.
Abraham, in our first reading, is not afraid to ask God for something hard. Not only is he not afraid, but he asks God again and again and again… He is persistent. But notice, God listens to Abraham each time. Our God is listening.
Prayer may be mysterious. But it is vital to our spiritual lives. A spiritual life without prayer will die. And we won’t pray, if we do not believe that our God is listening.
Jesus teaches us to pray the most perfect prayer. A prayer that God listens to. We begin by addressing God as “Our Father”. Prayer is where we learn that God really cares. Jesus invited us into this beautiful relationship he shares with the Father. He made it possible for us “ordinary individuals” to “regularly address God as ‘Father’” (CCSC, 219). It is important for us to receive God’s love for each of us as his sons and daughters. But just as important, we need to go to Him as a Father, to know that he is listening to us, that he wants to know us, and that he wants to love us. God listens.
Our God wants to give us what we need. That is why Jesus teaches us to pray, Give us our daily bread… Father, give us what we need! But he can only give us what we need if we tell him. As a boy, I struggled mightily with perfectionism. And I loved math. I remember in middle school I was really struggling with my math homework. And my parents wanted to help me. But when they offered I freaked out. I was so mad that I couldn’t do it myself, that I couldn’t ask for help. And so, my parents were unable to help me. Not because they didn’t want to, but because I wouldn’t let them give me what I needed. God wants to help us. But we have to tell him, what we need. Yes, he already knows what we need, just as my parents did, but He can only help us if we too confess our need for him. God listens.
As the Our Father concludes, we pray that we may be safe from evil. Do we trust that God is listening to our prayers of petitions for others? Just the other day, I was praying with someone from Saint Roberts, and she asked me to pray for specific intention for her grandson. And so we did. The next day, she came to me and said, that right after we prayed, our prayers were answered. God listens.
Jesus reminds us, Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Let us be persistent in prayer, because Our God listens.
In Christ’s love and friendship,
July 28 – Fr. Stephen: God Listens