How to pray

Sunday readings in brief 17 C

Gen 18:20-32; Ps 137 (138); Col 2:12-14; Lk 11:1-13

How to pray

Dear friends, today is seventeen Sunday of the Ordinary Time year C. The readings today converge on the theme of prayer. How to pray to God and what makes us dare to call him Father. Prayer is the way human beings relate to God. In antiquity, before the major religions spread to all parts of the world, every tribe on the face of the earth had a way of relating to the supernatural beings that in general, we call God. From the depth of their hearts, human beings know that they are neither the center nor the apex of the universe. We all feel deep in our spirit that there is that one who makes things the way they are including us. To this one, we approach with humility and respect.

When we were baptized, we began a relationship with God through Christ. Just like, it is with other relationships, especially the ones that lead to marriage between a man and a woman; our relationship with God needs the following aspects so that it may grow and blossom. First, a good relationship needs acquaintance between the parties. Since God already knows us, it is we who need to know him through catechetical instructions. Second, a good relationship needs the presence of the parties. We all know how difficult distance relationships are. Most of them die a natural death. If we do not keep holy the day of the Lord or attend prayer and worship in our respective places of worship, we cannot expect our relationship with God to thrive.

Third, a good relationship requires every party to be actively involved. A relationship dies when one or both parties become passive. Our relationship with God requires us to play our part and not expect God to do everything for us. Being active means practicing the godly values of love, forgiveness, hard work, charity, justice, etc. Being involved in the project of building the kingdom of God on earth. It is not the occasional Sunday mass attendance that we do to satisfy our biting conscience because we are baptized.

In the first reading, we hear how Abraham negotiated with God to spare the city of Sodom and Gomorrah because his nephew Lot lived there. Because of his relationship with God, Abraham was able to gather enough courage to negotiate with God. He was a man of faith and had won favour with God. When we are in trouble with authorities, we do not call just anyone to negotiate for us. We look for persons who have moral standing before that particular authority. Many times, we get prayer requests from our families, friends, and our community members. Do we have moral standing before God to negotiate for them?

St. Paul reminds us that it is because of our faith in Christ Jesus that we are made worthy to address God as our father. Though Christ died to cancel our debt with God, this waiver is not imposed on us but requires our volition and active participation in the process of our salvation.

Jesus came to the world to unite all human beings in his family, the family of God. Those who believe and are baptized become members of the family of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. This means, therefore, that all those baptized in Christ Jesus are required to live like brothers and sisters of one father. The desired implication of this is that humanity becomes one family where no hatred or sibling rivalry is admissible. The prayer of “Our Father” is brief yet it sums up all we need to live dignified lives. These include the need to worship, submit and honour our common father, our livelihood (daily bread), the need to relate well with our brothers and sisters (forgiving one another), and the need for the father’s protection from the evil of this world.

Dear friends, Jesus is teaching us many things during this Ordinary season. Today we learn how to pray and relate with God. I invite us to reflect upon our relationship with Him and see if it is healthy and helping us to advance in life.  Are you practicing a distance relationship with God because you are so busy with your plans and businesses?

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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