PRAY WITH OUR FRIENDS

October 16, 2022 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings(https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101622.cfm)

A friend shared to me how she has lost her faith. She had been in a depressing situation in life. She did not know what direction she will take. She was totally lost and confused. She was emotionally abused at home and suffered the effects of a broken-home. She was misunderstood by many, among her other friends and colleagues. Her personal and family problems keep adding to the point that she felt suffocated by all of these.

This was how she felt that her prayers seemed to be unanswered. The many times she cried during her prayers seemed to be in vain. God appeared to be very far from her to the point that she claimed, God is absent, thus, losing her faith.

Yet, as she opened up and began to tell her narrative that became an opportunity for me to journey with her being a friend. In one of our conversations, I asked her if she still believed that God was with her. She answered a very big “no.” She neither can feel God’s presence nor believe that God was with her at that moment. She was indeed very hurt, confused and lost. She stopped going to Church. She stopped praying because everything seemed to be useless. I could not blame her for that. She has been through a lot already. What I can do was to listen to her and let her know that she was not totally alone.

I asked her once if it’s okay that I will pray with her. She seemed to be hesitant but said yes. I prayed with her, recognizing God’s presence even in times of not being able to feel His presence. I prayed with her asking the Lord for comfort and assurance from the gift and embrace of friends, family and community. And I prayed with her to ask for the grace of humility to recognize our nothingness before God, for the grace to see light in the midst of dark experiences in life, for the grace of hope in midst of many uncertainties in life, for the grace of peace and freedom in the midst of overwhelming difficulties and grace of faith to believe even when it is hard to believe.

When I opened my eyes after that, I saw her shoes all wet with her tears because she was sobbing while we were praying together. She found strength in there and comfort. “God is with me,” those were her words that touched me very much. Indeed, this is how I also realized the power of praying with others, praying with our friends and finding at the end how our faith grew together, and how we become closer to God’s presence. Such encounter brings a change of perspective in life as well as growth in our relationship with God and with one another.

This encounter I had with a friend reminds me very much of the invitations we have on this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Praying with our friends is what our first reading in the Book of Exodus tells us.

We were told how Moses grew tired while he was praying. This happened when an enemy, Amalek waged war against Israel. Moses prayed to God for strength and victory. As long as Moses raised up his hands, they were winning. However, when he grew tired and rested his hands, they were losing. And so, Aaron and Hur helped Moses and supported his both hands. As a result, Moses’ hands remained steady until sunset. Thanks to the two for helping in that prayer.

This story may sound primitive but there is wisdom behind here. We find it there in the power of praying with our friends. Surely, praying can be tiring as Moses experienced it. It is also time-consuming. It can be emotionally exhausting especially when we are internally and externally troubled. Yet, praying with our friends is different. The company and the assurance that we are not alone, gives us hope.

This is what Jesus also wanted his disciples to realize as he gave them the parable of the judge and the widow. The judge in the story even though he was not at all righteous, did not fear God and did not respect any person, but gave in to the request of the persistent widow. Yes, it was because of the persistence of the widow that he granted her plea. This was the image Jesus used to bring out the character of God who is merciful. God will surely answer us because God listens to his people.

Indeed, the parable is an invitation of Jesus for all of us to realize the need to pray always without becoming weary or exhausted. But how do we not grow weary? Well, this is where we find the importance and significance of our friends, of our community. As this was addressed by Jesus to all the disciples, it is to be understood that prayer becomes our strength, source of comfort and growth in faith when prayer also becomes our way of life as a community of disciples of Jesus.

Now, these are the invitations for us today as well as your take-aways.

Pray with our friends. Do not be shy or hesitate to ask your friend/s to pray with you. Even if you are in a public place, pray with your friends. Even if that is through a simple meal that you share, pray with your friends. Pray with your friends not just during bad and difficult times but also during celebrations and in times of gratitude.

Pray with the Holy Scriptures. St. Paul tells us in his second letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspire by God.” And so, as we pray with our friends, maximize also the gift of the Holy Bible because praying with the Holy Scriptures allows us to discover God’s wisdom and invitations.

Pray to confront, to encourage and to embrace. Praying with our friends is not just about mumbling words or repeating memorized prayers but this also becomes our way of confronting ourselves of our sins and failures, to encourage one another through our presence and to embrace each one with love and affection despite our limitations and differences.

In this way, we allow our faith to grow together as friends and as a community of believers and certainly, Jesus will find faith among us. Kabay pa.

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