October 6, 2022 – Thursday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100622.cfm)
Many must have felt that prayer is an obligation, that it is some kind of a to-do list item or a strict law that one must observe and follow. When I was young, I was taught that I “must and should” pray so that I become a good boy and avoid God getting angry. Many of us have developed ways of praying and different devotional practices like praying the rosary and the various novenas to the saints. Yet, many seemed to believe that prayer is indeed a legalistic duty.
This must be the reason why many would feel guilty for not doing their prayers or the devotional prayers people think should be observed. With this, a strong desire can develop to “observe such obligation” to the point it can become an obsession. Indeed, we could be caught up by the externals that we would tend to forget what is in the heart. Our motivation then could be only grounded on pleasing others and pleasing God to look more righteous on the outside.
This was something Paul warned to the Christians in Galatia. The Galatians seemed to be influenced by the false teachings of the Judaizers (Christian Jews) that in order for them to be righteous and become true followers of Christ, then, they must strictly observe as well the “works of the law.” This means that the Galatians must also observe the Jewish practices of circumcision, dietary restrictions and keeping of feasts and holy days. Galatians seemed believed in this that they too must observe such externals so that they will be accepted and justified as righteous followers.
In the same way, Jesus invites his disciples to be persistent in prayer. Yet, this does not mean that one is merely obliged to pray as if this is some work to be faithfully done only. Indeed, never did Jesus impose this to the disciples. This allowed the disciples to realize the importance of prayer, not as a mere obligation to observe but as a way of life in developing a closer relationship with God, to an intimate friendship with the Lord. This was something they have witnessed in the life of Jesus who is intimately close with his Father in Heaven.
Truly, Jesus teaches us to be persistent in prayer and to continuously develop our closeness with the Lord. Jesus gives us these three attitudes of the heart as we pray.
First, Ask. This brings us into a deeper awareness of ourselves which includes recognizing our sins and failures, our needs and deepest hunger, our deprivations and real intentions. This calls us to become more accepting of ourselves. Only then, that we can truly ask the Lord to satisfy the deepest desire of our hearts, and we shall surely receive the grace.
Second, Seek. We seek for wisdom and understanding because in the process of asking the Lord, we might become weary and anxious from waiting. Thus, we pray to seek what remains hidden and undiscovered within our hearts so that we will be able to find and recognize the Lord working in our human experiences.
Third, Knock. When demands from work, from home and from our relationships, and expectations from others begin to suffocate us, we long for a break. When failures, pains and guilt begin to take hold of us, we long for an embrace that will give us assurance of love and mercy. Thus, we pray to knock at the heart of God, most willing to embrace and accept us as we are. Do not be afraid then, to pray in order to knock at His heart. The Lord will certainly open His arms for us for He longs to embrace us. Kabay pa.