Thursday of the 1st Week of Lent
The Answer to Prayers
An agnostic, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean on an ocean liner heard an announcement from the captain that a religious service is to be made a little while. He saw many passengers were coming and so he decided also to come and just wanted to hear what the pastor would say.
The agnostic put two oranges in his pocket while on his way to the service. On his way he passed by an elderly woman sitting in her deck chair fast asleep. Her hands were open. In the spirit of fun, the agnostic put the two oranges in her outstretched palms. After the service, he saw the old lady happily eating one of the pieces of fruit. “You seem to be enjoying that orange,” he said with a smile. “Yes, sir,” she replied, “My Father is very good to me.” “Your father, surely can’t be still alive?!” “Praise God,” she replied, “He is very much alive.” “What do you mean?” pressed the agnostic. She explained, “I’ll tell you, sir. I have been seasick for days. I was asking God somehow to send me an orange. I suppose I fell asleep while I was praying. When I awoke, I found He had not only sent me one orange but two!” The agnostic was speechless. Later he was converted to Christ. Yes, praying in God’s will brings an answer.
In today’s gospel Jesus teaches His disciples to pray with confidence and humility because the heavenly Father in His goodness always answers prayers. To pray with confidence and humility is what He recommends. Confident, because we know that God hears us and wants only the best for us. It is humble because we are convinced that everything depends on His grace and action. Somebody said that in fact, even our desire to approach God in prayer springs from His grace at work in our hearts. If this is true, then why do we fail to persevere in prayer? Perhaps deep down we are not really convinced of the effectiveness and power of prayer or maybe we believe that we can accomplish everything through our own efforts and action.
Our loving Father never refuses or mocks our prayers. He graciously gives beyond our expectations. But our heavenly Father listens and answers all our prayers not in the way we see fit. He answers our prayers in His way, with wisdom and love, in His terms, on His timeline and knowing what is really best for us. We are challenged to ask, to seek and to knock unceasingly motivated by our faith in the Father’s goodness and attentiveness to our true and lasting needs.
We pray because we find ourselves so faulty, so much in need of grace, so burdened that we can sometimes only move away and ask God for help.
We pray and ask God to grant our needs. It is because the Lord’s Prayer itself also includes the petition “give us today our daily bread.” That is why when we pray for our needs we prefer to dictate the topic of our prayer for we are unique individuals with particular needs for health, courage, endurance, peace of soul and forgiveness. Somebody said that the prayer of petition has a special place, especially at this time when we seem overwhelm by the materialism all around us. We are often confronted with a host of needs: those of our own and those of our friends and relatives. These prayers of petition may be communal or private petitions which carry us through to deeper levels of spiritual growth.
And Jesus encourages us to be persistent and persevering in prayer every day. Yes there are specified particular hours for formal prayer like Sunday masses schedules, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and others. But we are called to pray at all times through a prevailing atmosphere of prayer.