29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
October 20, 2013
Jesus speaks today about the necessity to pray always.
Doesn’t that mean praying 24/7? How can we do that? We need to work, sleep, and eat. We can’t possibly pray always.
Look at the story of Moses. While Joshua led the Israelites in battle it was Moses’ role to stand atop the mountain with his arms outstretched. This is a posture of prayer. It’s how I hold my arms during specific prayers at Mass. It is a gesture of praising God and opening our arms (lives), inviting God into our lives.
What happened to Moses when his arms got tired? He got so tired that Aaron and Hur had to hold up his arms for him.
Now, we don’t hold up our arms in prayer for arms to grow physically tired in our prayer but we can tire in our prayer. We can tire from our prayers that we feel go unanswered. We can tire when we struggle to feel God’s presence in our prayer. Prayer can be hard. To pray always can make it seem impossible.
To help us understand what He means by “praying always” Jesus offers a parable. The woman is awaiting a court decision. The judge has a reputation for not rendering decisions immediately. He doesn’t care what people think or what God thinks.
Knowing this, the woman keeps going back to the judge to ask him to render a “just decision”. I want to emphasis that she is asking for a “just” decision rather than a decision in her favor (although we can imagine that she thinks a just decision would be in her favor).
Finally, the judge renders his decision to get the woman off his back. Her persistence pays off.
So, does this mean that if we keep “nagging” God He will give us what we what? Would that imply that we can change the mind of God?
We cannot change God’s mind nor should we want to. God is the one who knows what is best. We shouldn’t want to change God’s mind.
So what is the lesson to be learned from the parable?
We see that the woman don’t ask the judge for a decision 24/7 but she did keep going back to the judge. We need to keep going back to God in our prayers but why bother? If we can’t get God to do what we want, what’s the point?
I think persistence in our prayers can have an effect on us. First, when we keep praying for the same thing with an open heart, we see how important it is. If we just pray for something once, we realize it isn’t that important.
Praying with an open heart (and I emphasis an “open heart”) over and over, can help us to understand where God is leading us. Maybe God wants to reveal to us part of why things are as they are.
When we pray persistently with an open heart, we can also learn from God what we need to ourselves for God’s will to be done.
So, the persistence in prayer is not meant to change God’s mind but it can change our mind to conform to God’s Will.
Even knowing this, prayer can still be hard. Sometimes, we never understand why our prayers don’t get answered. That’s why reading the Bible is important for us to persist and not grow weary.
Reading the Bible with a prayerful open heart helps us to know God’s Will. The Bible is written by human beings but it is inspired by God as a way to reveal His truth to us.
Reading stories in the Bible we hear stories of others whose prayers weren’t always answered and/or not answered when they wanted. In the reading the Bible we can see how God has been present to his people throughout the ages even when their prayers weren’t answered. Readings these Bible stories helps us to know that God will also be there for us.
May we preserve in prayer not to change God’s mind but the God’s will be done.