Perseverance in Prayer

Luke 11: 5-13
Gal 3: 1-5 / Lk 1

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
(Luke 11:13)

What supplication could be denied
When prayed in humble submission?
His Holy Spirit will provide
For God is full of compassion.

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)

Reflection

Even up to the present time, the people in the Middle East, especially in Israel, have always been noted for their special brand of hospitality. When my brothers and I travelled to the holy city of Jerusalem as a graduation gift from our father, we befriended one of the local Arabs who was selling rosaries (!). He invited us to his small house, and his wife served us strong black coffee in small cups. Of course each one of us bought a rosary, but it seemed to us that the sale was just a ruse for the man and his family to receive a greater blessing for opening their home to travellers from a foreign land.

Those who were listening to the story of Jesus understood the dire predicament of the man who was visited by his friend from a long journey. He had to find bread for his visitor at any cost, because failing to show hospitality to his weary visitor was tantamount to a great failing an a disgrace to his reputation. That was why he was willing to go to shameless lengths – waking up his neighbor and his whole household at midnight – to beg for bread! The message of our Lord in this parable is that when we need something, we must ask and seek for it with persistence, even without shame; knocking continuously until the one from whom we are seeking a favor surrenders to our will. And we can be so bold only because what we are asking or praying for is not for oursleves but for the benefit of other people. Our Lord is saying that our prayers are more effective when they are petitions for the sake of others, because in such cases our prayers are acts of mercy.

In our perseverance, Jesus tells us that our Father in heaven will not refuse to answer our prayers. He is far more generous and compassionate than any father on earth can ever be. If ever we do not receive what we are praying for, it may be because our Father in heaven has something better to give us. In most cases, He will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” What gift can ever be better than the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Finally, Jesus is telling us that whatever the situation we are in, we just have to trust in His Father’s mercy.

Almighty Father, grant us the grace to pray with a trusting heart, to believe that even before we pray You already know what is good for us. Amen.

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