Grace to you!
Prayer is such a vital aspect of the spiritual life that we can’t stop talking about it (you may check out our previous reflections on prayer).
Many times, our Lord Jesus Christ showed the apostles the necessity of prayer, not simply by his words, but also by praying himself. He began his public ministry with long days of fasting and prayer (see Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2); and one of his disciples, probably having observed his prayer-life, asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
In the gospel of Luke 18, there are at least three examples of prayer. First is the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8); the second is the prayer of humble contrition of the tax collector in contrast to the third, the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14).
Here, we focus on the prayer of the widow, what I call persistent prayer. The widow cries to an unjust judge; and because of her persistence, justice was granted to her. Read the full story in Luke 18:1-8.
Scripture makes us understand that Jesus told that story to show the necessity of praying always and not to give up. The unjust judge analogy isn’t showing God as unjust, but simply pointing to real human experience. If an unjust judge could respond to the need of another because of persistent requests, the Lord Jesus asks us, how about God who is just and merciful, wouldn’t He respond to our needs too?
Many times, we tend to give up when our prayer point isn’t answered as expected. It drains our zeal and fervor for prayer and makes us slip into an indifferent attitude regarding prayer. This is understandable and it is human. Maybe, we can look at it from the point of view of things we do in life, things that are equally human.
How do we cultivate the skill of persistence in our everyday activities or affairs? Many people are persistent when they badly need something. They learn to hang in there. People could also be persistent when they know it’s the last resort. Some others are persistent because they know their future depends on what they are searching for. Much more, we are persistent if we love something, and if it’s our passion.
Something we love is often what we are passionate about. We put in everything for it. Because we love, we patiently wait. Because we love God, we patiently wait on Him.
How about we look at persistent prayer as a combination of all of the above? Realizing we need grace from God, we see God as the last resort, and our ultimate future is tied to our relationship with God, and we are truly in love with God.
Prayer changes from being hard work when it springs from love, true love of God. I hear many people who have grown in the practice of prayer say the more they prayed, the larger their spiritual heart for God expands so much so that they simply want more time with God. Love for God and love for communion, results in constancy of communication with the Trinity of love.
Sometimes, prayer can be dry. Many times, we want to feel some spiritual consolation from our prayer; we feel dryness instead. Other times, our minds fly from one part of the room to another, wondering from one concern to another that isn’t related to our prayerful conversation with God. Those times tend to make us want to quit praying or lose interest in praying longer.
One of the ways to handle this is to bring all those worries, concerns and distractions in the presence of God with whom you are in conversation. Persevere while the distractions persist. If we persist, gradually we would grow in prayer and realize we needed to keep knocking so the door would be ajar for our spiritual succor.
As Jesus reassured us, “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8).
I pray God will bless us with the grace of persistent prayer. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.