On Prayer

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

We hear very often people say, ‘Pray for me or remember me in your Prayers.’ There is nothing wrong with that, it is our duty to pray for each other. Our prayer life is a reflection of our true faith in God. Prayer is understood as a form of communication, a way of talking to God, and raising our hearts and minds to God. In our prayer, we strengthen that recognition of the presence of God, which draws us close to Him.

The first reading today gives us the model for intercessory prayer provided by Abraham in his dialogue with God. Abraham, our father in faith, demonstrated great confidence. He approached God as a father. He acknowledged that he was dust and ashes. “If you find fifty righteous people in those wicked and immoral cities,” Abraham said, “you won’t destroy it, will you God?” God said, “No, if I find fifty righteous people in the city, I will not destroy it.” How about forty, thirty, twenty, or ten? But not even ten people were in those cities, so God went beyond the terms of negotiation and spared the only just inhabitants of the cities. God is merciful than we are.

The Responsorial Psalm is a declaration of God’s fidelity and willingness to listen to our prayers. “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me,” we are invited to remember this truth at all times. Our prayers are never a waste of time. God always listens to us.

The second reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. He talks about baptism. In Jesus, we were baptized, and this made us God’s beloved children and inheritors of His Kingdom. We are assured by St. Paul that God will always be gracious and merciful to us for we are His beloved children. When we pray, let this be our source of inspiration and hope.

The Gospel sets us the formula for all prayers, namely the gift of “Our Father.” This prayer contains the teaching of Jesus in its totality. Jesus begins the prayer by calling God, Abba Father a most endearing term used in a close parental bond. The Kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim is understood as a world that is built on truth, love, compassion, justice, freedom, human dignity, and peace. In the second half of the prayer, we pray more directly for our own needs. And we begin with present needs, we ask God for today’s bread, food, and today’s material needs. We offer God our present, our past, and our future. By this prayer we also invite the Trinitarian God into our lives, God the Father, the Creator and Provider, by asking for daily bread, God the Son, Jesus, our Savior, by requesting forgiveness of our sins, and God the Holy Spirit by asking for deliverance from temptations.

When we want something from God, we must keep asking. “Ask, and it will be given to you, search, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Second, Jesus reminds us that we are dealing with a loving and compassionate father. Who is ready to provide. We must not give up the habit of prayer because it is a gift of Jesus through which He empowers us to be constantly in touch with God. If we pray according to the mind and will of God, we shall gladly join the Psalmist in saying, “on the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

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