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Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time C: July 24, 2022

Luke 11: 1-13

Fr. John Tran

No doubt the disciples had seen Jesus pray many times. As they looked at him, he must have seemed so absolutely absorbed into God’s presence, his Father’s presence. Then they must have looked into themselves and decided that they did not look the same as Jesus did when they prayed. They wondered why? How were they to pray and come close to the state Jesus was in when he prayed? What was the secret? After all, John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray, why not did Jesus teach his own?

Why indeed.

What did the disciples expect? It probably was not what the got. Jesus taught them that prayer was simply talking with their Father; first recognizing who he was and wishing for his kingdom to be present; then placing before him our most basic concerns: our daily food, forgiveness of our sins, asking that we too might forgive those who have wronged us, and asking for his protection against evil. In short, prayer is being with our Father, recognizing who he is to us, placing our concerns in his care, and wanting to do our part in making the kingdom alive today.

But as to prayer, it is not something we learn to master like Spanish or cooking. What we are to do is not to manufacture it, but to surrender to the prayer that we already possess, and to get out of its way. As we learn in today’s gospel, the most important prayer technique is to keep at it, to give it a daily place in our lives. It is much better to pray for 15 minutes a day, than to pray for hours on end every now and then.

We have many concerns each day, and we may pray about them; but the most important thing is to take time away from them and give them over to our Father. This, in fact, gives life to the rest of our day.

We need to be like Jesus, and give away the time, and lay it simply before God without demanding that we see the results we want to happen. A colleague asked C.S. Lewis if he really thought he could change God with his prayer for the cure of his wife’s cancer. Lewis replied: “Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.” A well-know rabbi talks about the Sabbath as being a window on eternity. That is what prayer is, a window on eternity. We let God in, we let ourselves be the prayer that we already are.

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