Reflections for the Week of Sunday July 24, 2016 Tenth after Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 11.1-13. This gospel teaches about three important things: Prayer, persistence, and asking for the Holy Spirit.

One of Jesus’ disciples sees Him praying and asks for instruction in prayer. I would say that two of the most important things to do as a Christian are reading Scripture and prayer. And don’t we all need instruction in prayer? Jesus gives His disciples a pattern by which we may formulate our own desires as we attend to the Lord. The pattern Jesus specifies can also be expressed by the mnemonic ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, [Intercession], and Supplication. These items would all be included in verbal prayer–desires expressed in words. Lectio divine is prayer devoted to deep meditation on a passage of Scripture. Contemplative prayer is an effort to empty one’s mind and sit quietly with the Lord for a time. We may not hear Him speak to us, but He will transform us and our experience will reveal to us our change.

Jesus then tells a story about going to a friend at midnight and making a request that is resisted because of the late hour. But the supplicant persists in his request and is finally successful. Jesus is saying that we must be persistent in our prayer requests to God. God often doesn’t answer our prayers at once. He tests our fidelity by making us show persistence. Persistence engenders faith. Sometimes the persistent prayer even leads up to acceptance of the opposite of what we are praying for. He will give us His desires. As we persist, God will help us to accept His will even when it is contrary to our desires. Persistence is a vital demonstration of faith and engenders faith.

Jesus tells His disciples to ask, search, and knock. For what? God knows what we want and need before we ask, but He wants us to formulate the desire and need before He gives them to us. In Jn 14.13 Jesus says He will grant all requests made in His name which means in accordance with His will. In Mt 7.33 Jesus tells His disciples to seek first the kingdom of God. What does that mean? In Lk 17.21 He says the kingdom of God is among you (in the church, in your group) and within you. This can be understood to mean that the presence of God is a place where God resides within us where we can always find Him when we need Him and turn to Him in prayer and worship. And this leads us back to the conclusion of the text we are studying which ends with the promise of the Holy Spirit (v. 13). Jesus is promising that if anyone asks, He will receive the Holy Spirit. This is he greatest gift of all, because with the Holy Spirit comes faith (Eph 2.8-10), regeneration (Jn 3.1-15), justification (Rm 3.21-26), remission of sins (1 Jn 3.5-9), sanctification (Jn 17.14-26), and finally glorification (Rm 8.30) and eternal life (Jn 17.3). The Spirit gives the power to live lives pleasing to God reflecting all these gifts. A story is told of St. Thomas Aquinas seeing the Lord in a vision who asked him what He could do for him. Thomas’ answer was, “More of You, Lord.” Surely this is what we all want and need most of all. Life finds fulfillment in loving God and loving our neighbors. From a practical point of view this means daily prayer and Scripture (loving God) and devoting ourselves to sacrificially caring for those around us.

Memory Verse: But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rm 8.11).

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