Perseverance in Prayer

Luke 11: 5-13
Mal 3:13-20b / Psa 1:1-4,6

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

Those who were listening to the story of Jesus could relate to the dire predicament of the man who was visited by a friend who had come 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 like giving in to a great failing and a disgraced 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! Even up to the present time, the people in the Middle East, especially in Israel, are still noted for their special brand of hospitality. They believe that they will receive a greater blessing for opening their homes to travelers, especially visitors from a foreign land.

The message of our Lord in this parable is two-fold: first, 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 ourselves 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. Secondly, in the same manner, when someone comes to us in desperate need, it is not just an option, but always an obligation to extend the help if we have the capacity to do so. It is a God-given privilege to be able to help when the occasion calls for it. As an advocate for blood donation, even total strangers call for help when their loved ones are in need of blood components. With the prevalence of dengue fever, our Red Cross blood center often runs out of platelet concentrates. With God’s grace I was able to help a friend secure up to 12 units of platelet concentrate for her daughter who was stricken with dengue fever a few days ago. I believe our prayers played a bigger factor in the “rescue operation”.

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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