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Our Persistent, Negotiating Prayer Life
Today’s readings incorporate several themes: negotiation, commands, persistence, and expectation. And surrounding all these themes is a bigger theme: boldness. Abraham is bold in speaking with God, so bold in fact that he not only negotiates with the Almighty, the Almighty willingly grants his request. Abraham had no fear in speaking in such a way to God, because he knew that God was listening and appreciating his concern. The disciples, too, speak with boldness. They don’t ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, they tell him to teach them how to pray. Their imperative sets up a pattern of imperatives as Jesus teaches them the prayer that has been prayed unceasingly in the church catholic. These themes continue in boldness as persistence is encouraged, even to the extent of being able to ask, search, and knock, knowing that the Lord says we will receive what we ask for. And God wants to give to those who ask God. We are to ask in boldness, which comes from being “rooted and built up in [Christ]” (Col. 2:7). Strengthened by the Lord’s supper, we are filled with God’s Spirit to speak boldly and to be persistent in our prayers, and to be ready to receive the things for which we ask. The question becomes, then, what is it we want and need?
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
In teaching his disciples this prayer, Jesus also reminds them to focus on God’s coming reign, God’s mercy, and the strengthening of the community. Jesus encourages his disciples to childlike trust and persistence in prayer.
1[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”