Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, June 18
In the Life of Faith Which We Live Daily, May We Spend Quality Time in Prayer with Both Sincerity and a Childlike Trust in the God Who Only Wishes to Give Us What He Knows Is Truly Best for Our Personal Well-being.
We hear Jesus saying in today’s Gospel, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”
How many times do we just “buzz” right through a prayer without even reflecting upon the words we speak? How many times do we recite the decades of the Rosary without thinking about the prayers themselves or the mysteries upon which we are to meditate? How many times do we go to Mass or a religious service and not really listen to the prayers which are being offered up by the priest or minister?
If we stop and truly reflect upon some of our prayer habits, we may find ourselves sometimes more like the people to whom our Lord was referring in the beginning of today’s Gospel. I have seen many people become so engrossed in praying so many different prayers, that I begin to wonder if they are more caught up in quantity rather than quality.
Please do not misinterpret or misunderstand what I am trying to say. There are Orders of religious who devote the major portion of each day just to prayer. I am respectful and admire those who spend time conversing with our Lord, as long as what we say does not become mindless rhetoric, where we end up saying the prayer just for the sake of uttering the words.
It is for this reason our Lord said in today’s Gospel, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans…”
When we spend time with our family, be they spouse or children or both, do we not look for quality time with them? When a young couple, or even an older couple, are dating each other, do they not take the time to get to know each other? Is this not what they would consider quality time?
If we can answer “yes” to these questions, then does not our Lord also expect quality time from us, His children, when we are talking with Him?
For ALL prayer is a form of conversation, whether it be formalized prayer – those prayers which we have memorized since childhood – or personal prayer – that which is a true sharing of our innermost thoughts and feelings with God from the very depths of our hearts and souls.
This is why our Lord decided to help us in our conversations with Him. He gave us a most beautiful prayer which, in all its simplicity, reaches out and guides us into a personal relationship with God the Father, whom our Lord called “Abba”, a very personal way in which Jesus addressed His Father, just as if we were to call him “Daddy God”, a term which reflects both our great respect and our great love for our Heavenly Father.
Even Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’”
And as children of God, Jesus gave us another example of how we should pray when he spoke a parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector who go up to the temple to pray.
In Luke’s Gospel, it tells us the Pharisee prayed, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.”
And the tax collector stood at a distance, and, as the Gospel tells us, “…would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’” Jesus tells us that, through the humility and sincerity of his heart, the tax collector when home justified, but the Pharisee did not.
In other words, it is what comes from the heart that God wishes to hear, not meaningless words which are recited without any real thought.
And our First Reading today tells us that God heard the prayers of both Elijah and Elisha. He heard them because the prophets prayed with sincerity. They prayed for the greater glory of God and for the needs of their people.
Even today’s psalmist tells us that God deserves our praise, for we read, “The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice…The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory.”
Prayer and a truly Christian way of life are inseparable. Prayer is the way by which we grow in our personal relationship with the God who has created us, who loves us, and who desires that we spend our eternal life with Him.
Both the Bible and the writings of the saints give us much advice when it comes to prayer. Saint Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
And Saint John Chrysostom once wrote, “Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls.”
Are these two quotes in contradiction with each other? No; our Lord wants us to spend time with Him in prayer, but He wants us to reach out to Him from our hearts, not with empty words. It is this form of prayer – praying from the heart – which gives Him greater glory, and to which He is more likely to listen and respond to our needs, especially since He already knows what we need even before we ask Him.
Saint Faustina, our Lord’s chosen apostle of Divine Mercy, wrote in her Diary, “A soul arms itself with prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.” (Diary, 146)
In the life of faith which we live daily, may we open our hearts to the graces with which our Lord wishes to bless us.
And may each of us spend quality time in prayer with both sincerity and a childlike trust in the God who only wishes to give us what He knows is truly best for our personal well-being. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them.” (Matthew 6:7-8a)
- “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” (Matthew 6:8b-9)
- “I will praise the LORD with all my heart…Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.” (Psalm 111:1b-2)
- “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:14, 15b)
- “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26)
- “Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
- “The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice…The heavens proclaim his justice; all peoples see his glory.” (Psalm 97:1ab, 6)
- “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
- “The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Prayer for the Day
“Our Eternal and Most Loving Father in Heaven,
may everything I do begin with Your inspiration,
continue with Your saving help,
and reach perfection under Your guidance.
“With Your loving Care, guide me in my daily actions,
and help me to persevere with love and sincerity.
Teach me to judge wisely the things of Earth
and to always love the things of Heaven.
“Your Spirit instilled in my heart that I am Your child,
and I am confident to call You my Father.
Keep me in Your Presence always
and never let me be separated from You.
“Make Your Love and Mercy the foundation of my life;Anonymous
teach me to long for Heaven as my eternal Home.
May its promise and hope guide my way on Earth
until I finally reach eternal life with You. Amen.”