Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Luke 18.1-8

“Pray continually and never lose heart”

The parable in today’s Gospel reading, Luke tells us, is “about the need to pray continually and never lose heart”. There are many kinds of prayer, primarily prayer of adoration, praise and thanksgiving, but here Jesus is speaking specifically about prayer of petition, prayer of asking. Now, for many people the big problem with prayers of petition is that, all too often, God seems to remain silent and inattentive no matter how insistently they may call on him. And this experience often leads them to ask why pray at all?

Perhaps we need to ask what are we seeking in our prayers, what really are we asking for? Is it to tell God about our needs and desires as though God needs to be informed? Is it to change God, to persuade him to act more favourably on our behalf, as though God were not at all times our loving Father who does not need to be told what to do? So what really are we asking for in our prayers? If God already knows and if God cares, some people may ask again, why bother praying, why ask God for anything?

First, let us be aware, our prayer of petition acknowledges our utter dependence on God. It is essentially a plea for God to fill our emptiness from his own fullness, our weakness with his strength. It is not about getting God to change, to come on our side, as though he were not already with us and for us. Our prayer does, however, change us, so that we may be more completely open to God. Underlying the ‘things’ we pray for, are deeper ‘things’ that bring us closer to God – a deeper faith, a stronger love, a richer hope, a clearer understanding of God’s will and a greater strength to carry it out. God will never fail us in the 'things' we really need.