How to pray

Reflection by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB

Last week’s clear Bible lesson asked us to show gratitude to God, that he too appreciates being thanked. This 29th Week ‘C’ we are taught about prayer: we must not be afraid to keep begging God. Again, our Church cooperates with St. Luke by reaching back to other passages from the Bible that make much the same point of pleading.

The Mass opens with Psalm 17, speaking as would a trusting soul, “To you I call, for you will surely heed me, O God; turn your ear to me, hear my words.” In the first reading the Church seeks out the Bible story from Exodus about how the Hebrew migrants were winning in battle if Moses kept his hands aloft in prayer over a battleground. Lest he tire, Aaron and Hur moved a stone for Moses to sit while they stood beside him to help him support his arms in prayer over the conflict. God heeded his persistent prayer, and the Hebrews were victorious.

Thus, the Responsorial Psalm 12 breaks out in song: “I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me? My help is from the LORD.” That is the posture our souls must take as we pray. Hearts uplifted to God we repeat, “Our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Such must be our trust.

Then St. Paul speaks for both the Old and New Testaments when he says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction and for training in righteousness.” That is why he ‘charges’ Bishop Timothy, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, … proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.” Paul wanted Timothy to be patient in teaching as we are to be patient in prayer.

To open the Gospel, the Church quotes Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and effective, discerning reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Jesus in the Gospel uses yet another memorable parable also to insist on prayer ‘without growing weary. A widow deprived of a fair judgment pleas time after time insisting with the judge that he find honestly foe her sake. The unjust judge, tired of her harassment, finally gives her what she pleaded for. ‘So it is with God,’ says Jesus, ‘Be patient when you pray; have Faith. God will give a just reply.’