Scripture Reading—Luke 11:5-13
I suppose there are many reasons some of us don’t pray as much as think we should—or could. We are busy. There are many distractions. It is hard to find ways to unplug, even for short periods, from the noise of the world. And even when we try to do that, we can’t turn off the noise of our minds long enough to focus on something other than ourselves. Those are the obstacles I find to prayer. It is unfortunate that prayer seems so difficult for us at times. I think one of our problems is that we look at prayer like the friend approached at night for bread Jesus describes in verses 5 through 8. We think of God as one who would rather not be bothered, as one we have to pester relentlessly to be heard. But as we go on through this passage, we discover that Jesus’ point is that God is not like the neighbor who doesn’t want to be bothered with our request for help at midnight. Jesus encourages to persist in prayer because God is better disposed toward us than any earthly parent could ever be toward a child. God wants to hear our prayers, whether they are requests for aid with the mundane needs of life, or the deeper cries and longings for deeper things—direction for our lives, divine mercy toward loved ones who are hurting, healing of relationships, the well-being and salvation of our broken world. In all these things, God desires to be present. And that is, after all, the greatest gift to be sought and received through persistent prayer—God’s presence, love, and grace. Hear Jesus’ promise that in prayer God will give us himself—“If 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!” That’s a gift worth asking, seeking, knocking, and searching for. It’s the one gift God is eager to give.
Thought for the day: The real purpose of prayer is not just to seek God’s aid for ourselves and others in times of need—it is more than anything to make ourselves available to God so that God can give the best gift of all—himself.
Prayer: O God, help me to make prayer a priority in my life, not just to fulfill an obligation or command, but so that we can become more receptive to receiving the gift of your constant, abiding presence with us always. Amen.