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“How to Pray (Ask): Ask, Seek, Knock”

“How to Pray (Ask): Ask, Seek, Knock”

Today’s 1st and Gospel Readings encourage persistence in prayer. The 2nd reading, reminds me of what God has done for me in Jesus. God’s track record in history and in my own life shows that he will answer my persistent prayers in the way that’s best for me. “Great is the mystery of faith”. This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer (1Thes.5:17-18). The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to hear our prayer. Prayer is the pillow of religion. Only the self-sufficient do not pray, and the self- righteous cannot pray. Our persistent prayer to God is to be made in a climate of love and trust, for he is a loving Father who cares for us and will give us the best thing at the right time.
Prayer is “a surge of the heart, a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Therese of Lisieux). St John Damascene, described prayer as “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or requesting of good things from God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2590).Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. It enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself. The degree of our faith is the degree of our prayer. The strength of our hope is the strength of our prayer and the warmth of our charity is the warmth of our prayer.

Understanding the 5 basic disciplines taught by Jesus in the “OUR FATHER” will most certainly help:

1. RELATE – Our Father who art in heaven –Relate to the Father with family intimacy, affection, reverence and love. We are not merely praying the “the deity” or the “Godhead.” We are praying to our Father who loves us, who provides for us and, who sent his only Son to die for us and save us.

2. REJOICE – hallowed by thy name! He is the giver of every good and perfect gift and to Him our praise is due. Praise and thanksgiving make us people of hope and joy. It is for this that we were made. God created us, so that we…might live for his praise and glory (Eph. 1:12).

3. RECEIVE – thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – At the heart of this petition is an openness to God’s will, to his word of instruction, to his plan for us and for this world. When Jesus lives in us we hunger for God’s word and strive to know his will and have it operative in our life.

4. REQUEST – Give us today our daily bread – Intercessory prayer is at the heart of the Christian life. Allow “bread,” in this case, to be a symbol of all our needs. Our greatest need of course is to be fed by God, and thus bread also points to the faithful reception of the Eucharist.
5. REPENT – and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. – Sin is understood at two levels here:

1:Sin -(lowercase) our personal sins and trespasses, also referred to as our “trespasses.”
2. SIN (upper case) – referring to the whole climate of sin, the structures of sin that reinforce and underlie our own sins. Referred to here as “evil.”
LESSONS: Pray where you are, God is present everywhere and ready to listen. Pray when possible in a quiet spot where you can be alone. Pray to God simply and naturally, as to a friend. Pray remembering the good things God had done for you. Pray for God’s forgiveness for the unworthy things that you may have done. Pray for the things that you need, things that make your life finer and more Christlike. Pray for others, remembering the situations they confront and the help they need. Pray that God’s will may be done in you and in the world. Pray, and then start answering your prayer.

“When God Calls” Part I (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

“When God Calls” Part I (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

Following Jesus will cost me.I am called to live by the spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh. Today, the church calls us to be totally committed to Christ. Without “Looking back,” we must freely “slaughter” all the forces, distractions, and obstacles that prevent us from serving the Lord well.

In the first reading, (1 KGS 19:16B, 19-21) the call of Elisha and his response was a dramatic event. Elisha demonstrated a total commitment to his call. The slaughtering of his oxen, the kissing of his father, and the bidding of farewell to his men, were all symbolic gestures that he had freely accepted his call. It was a sign of total submission to the will, and call of God over his own will. It was also an indication that he loved God more than his business, and his own self. The slaughtering of his oxen is very significant for us today. He “killed and abandoned everything” that could have become an obstacle to his decision to serve God in the future. Also, he overcame the temptation to keep them. This was the proof of his total committed to God. What have we sacrificed, and what is our proof of it?

In the second reading, (GAL 5:1, 13-18) Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ. This freedom is for a purpose. It liberates us from the things that enslave us in order to be committed to Christ. It is not freedom to indulge in vain acts, or what Paul calls “self-indulgence.” It is not freedom to become inactive. Instead, it is freedom to follow and serve the Lord. This freedom binds us to Christ. It is a freedom that permits us to submit to Christ, and to surrender all to Him.

The gospel (LK 9:51-62)brings us to the apogee of this total commitment to the Lord. Christ knew and saw the weakness of the young men who wished to follow him. He knew their struggles, as well as their distractions. They had “genuine intentions as well as excuses” as most of us often do. They wanted to follow Christ, yet they were not ready to make the sacrifice.

So seeing their predicament, Christ addressed them: “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

(Gen 19, 26) and Judas Iscariot into a traitor. It represents all unnecessary attachments. It does not permit us to make God’s call through his Son Jesus Christ, a permanent experience in our lives. One of the greatest obstacles we have today as Christians is that “our oxen” are still alive. Although we are professed Christians, our oxen are still hidden somewhere in the fabrics of our life. They represent old habits and mundane things that we are still strongly attached to. We must “slaughter” them as a sign of our total commitment to Jesus Christ or, our attention will remain divided because: “You cannot serve God and Marmon at the same time” (Lk 16, 13).The church, therefore, calls us to be totally committed to Christ. Like Elisha, we must “slaughter all the forces, obstacles, and vices such as: envy, jealousy, pride, peddling rumors, character assassination, selfishness, materialism, immorality, and old bad habits. These make it hard for us to be committed to Christ. Then, we can confidently say to Christ: “O Lord, you are my portion and cup” because, we have freely offered all for his sake. If we are committed to the Lord, He will definitely show us the part of life. As a working tool in the hands of God, remember that the work is the Lord’s, therefore, as you do the work of the Lord, never forget the Lord of the work. Have a blessed week ahead.

Based on Sunday readings of June 26th 2016