In this weekend’s Sunday gospel when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, he gives them the Our Father. Luke follows this account with Jesus’ teaching on the need for persistence in prayer, the need to keep asking and seeking.
I know that I spend a lot of time seeking after and asking for things that I want but that I don’t really need. I might pray that a challenging situation be resolved or for a difficult person to move away, but what i really need is to know that I am in relationship with the one of whom I make the request.
It’s a bit like a child before Christmas asking parents for a new bike or digital device. What the child really needs and deeply desires is the security of a loving relationship with the parents. That the child asks the parents for something they want is evidence of the quality of the relationship and the child’s healthy awareness that the parent is a provider. That’s a good thing. But even more important is the relationship that will endure and grow even when the bike or the iphone doesn’t turn up.
There is a tendency to see prayer(s) as an incantation recited in the hope of magically manipulating a response. We might think that the more Our Fathers I say the more likely God is to magically solve my problem.
But magic is not what we’re after. It’s relationship with God that we are seeking. Magic is when something seems to happen, but it doesn’t really happen. The woman in the box is not really sawn in half and the rabbits don’t really turn into doves.
And magic happens instantly. It has to otherwise the audience gets bored. Prayer is not always answered instantly. More often it grows with the depth and power of a healthy relationship, an organic maturation towards more healthy life and love.
What we really seek is miracle, that is divine intervention in our human existence; an intervention that is perceptible in our human experience.
And while miracles may begin in a moment (often imperceptibly), they may unfold over time. Sometimes the answer to our prayer becomes more visible over time. We can often see this when we look back and realise that while we thought there was no answer to our asking and seeking, God has actually been working at a deeper level to bring about more than we ever asked or imagine in us and through us.
Of course there is lot of divine intervention in our lives that we remain completely oblivious to. Have you taken a moment today to feel your pulse and to marvel that in every beat of your heart God is giving you life? It’s one of the many daily miracles that we take for granted!
I pray the Our Father persistently dozens of times every day, whenever I feel a need or desire to be connected with Jesus, encouraged by the knowledge that I am praying the same prayer that he prayed. I usually don’t focus on the words as I pray and my mind often wanders.
But as I begin I can relax, grateful that I am not alone but in relationship with the one Jesus called not just MY but OUR Father.