Persistence in Prayer

In Reflections and Homiliesby Deacon ScottLeave a Comment

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Jerimiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53

My homily at the 8:30 & 11:00 Masses at Our Lady of Fatima
Sunday, August 18, 2019

Audio Recording

Today, Jesus is politely telling us that many of our troubles are due to the fact that we tend to be weak pray-ers. Many of us simply don’t understand the power of prayer and, therefore, we don’t practice it as we should. Thankfully Jesus also gives us the remedy for this weakness in our gospel passage today. 

Let’s be honest,

  • In general, we tend to give up on God too easily.
  • We approach God with less confidence than the determined widow in today’s gospel had in approaching a crooked judge. 
  • Behind the words of our prayers there lurks a subtle tendency to doubt God. 
  • We tend to think that just because he doesn’t answer us in the way we expect him to, that he isn’t answering us at all. 

Today Jesus is reminding us that we should have unlimited faith and confidence in God. Because God is our Father, an all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful Father, there should be no limit to our confidence in him.

So what is the remedy for our being weak pray-ers? As ironic as it sounds, the remedy, as St Luke tells us, is that we should “pray always without becoming weary.” We must pray more to become better pray-ers! It’s truly that simple!

  • We must be constant in our prayer, relentless in our prayer!
    • Just like the widow with her petitions to the judge,
    • Just like Moses in today’s first reading, interceding for victory in the battle against the Amalekites: 
  • We must be constant in thanksgiving, constant in repentance, constant in praise, and constant in bringing to God every need that comes our way.
  • This constancy in prayer is built on the confidence that God hears us.
  • This constancy is the path to becoming better pray-ers. It is the secret to developing a fuller and richer prayer life.

So if we know all of this, why can it sometimes be so difficult for us to trust God to provide for our needs? Why do we think that when we give something away to someone in need, to the Church, that he is not going to bless that gift and return it to us in abundance?

I believe the reason we have these doubts is because the culture we live in doesn’t encourage us be good pray-ers. And if we’re not good pray-ers, we are not going to be good givers, good stewards of God’s gifts.

The fact is that our culture today is a secular culture, it doesn’t value God.

  • The triumphs of technology have created a culture that has unlimited confidence in science and human ingenuity.
  • As a result, that same culture tends to depict religion as a sign of weakness, because religion teaches us to depend on God, rather than depending exclusively on our own abilities. Let’s face it, in our secular culture today, God is irrelevant for most people. 
  • How many of us buy into the lie that we just don’t have time for prayer every day? That we’re way too busy to set time aside for prayer, especially prayer with our spouse and with our family?
  • Our culture subtly affects our prayer life. And if our prayer life is not in order, our faith life is not in order. 
  • We lose sight of the spiritual truth that it is in giving that we receive. That it is God who provides for all of our needs. 
  • Persistent prayer is the key to aligning our will with God’s will. It is the key to overcoming the negative effects of the culture on our faith.

In a few minutes you’re going to be asked to make a financial commitment to our parish for the coming year. To make a generous commitment, we must trust that God will provide for our needs. We must trust that he truly loves us, that he cares for each of us personally, and that he has full authority over the circumstances of our lives, enabling us to increase our financial giving and still be able to pay our bills and provide for our needs. 

Do we take Jesus at his word when he tells us “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Do we act on the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians when he writes “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully?”

I challenge all of us to step out in faith today. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and give more than you think you can give, trusting our loving and all-powerful heavenly Father to provide for all of your needs. Trusting that he, indeed, loves a cheerful giver.

Here’s the bottom line, the big question we must each answer for ourselves. Do we truly believe that God hears and answers our prayers? Do we believe that he always has our backs? 

I hope you’ve prayed about the commitment you will soon be making. If you haven’t, you still have time. You can say a simple prayer right now, something like “God, I don’t know how I can afford to make this increased financial commitment, but I believe that you will provide me with everything I need. Lord, I put all my trust in you. Help my unbelief!”

After you make your commitment, stepping out today in faith in our loving and generous Father’s providence, be like the widow who petitions the judge without ceasing, relentlessly petitioning God daily to give you what you need. Go to him in prayer every day. Become a good pray-er and you will experience his generosity and you will become like him in your generosity.

I assure you – trust me in this – that when you persist in prayer, God will not only hear your prayers, he will make sure that you never lack for anything you truly need.

God bless you.

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