17th Sunday in ordinary time, year C

Readings: Genesis 18:20-32   Psalm 138:1-2.2-3.6-7.7-9, Colossians 2:12-14, Luke 11:1-13

Teach us how to pray, teach us how to live

Being Christians in a way means being like Christ. A Christian derives his identity from the person of Christ and his way of doing. So to be a Christian is a call to resemble Christ, to imitate him. The disciples, the immediate followers of Christ see what he does and want to learn from him. The request “teach us how to pray” is our point of interest today. Deep down this request by the disciples is not just about prayer, but about teaching them to live as children of God and as followers of Christ who are brothers to each other.

The prayer of “The our father” that Jesus teaches the disciples is a prayer and a formula of prayer that puts the one praying into a relationship with God the Father and with the community of believers. Thus, prayer brings about communion with God the father which is not detached from communion with other believers with whom we are united by God the father. Prayer then becomes our way of life and or disposition to it.

It is not by coincidence that this prayer starts with the reference to the father which is an expression of the relationship we have with him as believers. God is our father, caring, loving, and merciful. Just like little children we need to trust him and entrust ourselves to his care knowing and believing that he not just wishes us the best as his children but offers us the best.

The aspects of Prayer

As Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray, what comes out vividly is what we need to show God and what we need to ask God. We need to honor the name of the Lord and pray that his Kingdom comes and dwells among us. we honor God by putting into practice his precepts and letting Him be God in our life. In other words, letting his will be done in us. we pray to God for our needs but this does not mean that we command God, we raise our voices to him and he acts and listens to us according to his will. It is out of this that we are called to be patient in prayer. Prayer also entails asking for our daily needs. Notably, Jesus says to the apostles to pray for just daily bread. To ask God to sustain us just with what we need today, to live by the present, and leave the future in the hands of God. Prayer brings change to our lives; we don’t pray to change the mind of God but so that we may be changed to what God wants.

Still important and very vital as we pray are forgiveness and deliverance from evil. This is where the power of prayer lies. We can be able to forgive others if we pray. We can be able to be delivered from evil if we pray. The power to overcome evil and all its temptations lie in prayer. So, prayer empowers us to fight evil and to be able to forgive. Just as we ask God to forgive us, so we must be ready to forgive others. In a way prayer is an act of surrender, of abandonment of self to the will of God. In another aspect, Jesus teaches us to be persistent in prayer. The example of a man who keeps pestering his neighbor shows us that we must also persist in knocking, seeking, and searching for God. It is that persistence that opens doors of grace to us. we persist patiently and insistently without ceasing. There should not be the temptation to abandon prayer when we feel we are not getting what we are asking for. God hears us. Let us not stop praying. Searching for God, knocking at his door, and asking for his assistance must become part of our life, the order of our days. In prayer, we will find answers to our questions.

 


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