Homily: How to Pray
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey
Sometimes when reading a paper or other material you come across a phrase that pulls you up short! I came across such a phrase the other day, it said quite starkly : “What the world most needs today is PRAYER”.
The French author supported that claim by saying “It is prayer that will give birth to all the renewals, deep and fruitful transformations we all want for society today. This world of ours is very sick, and only contact with heaven will be able to cure it”.
Then the author went on to say something which pulled me up in my tracks – viz the most useful thing for the Church to do today is to give people a “THIRST for prayer and to teach them to pray”.
With the multiple commitments family members have, it is so easy to scurry around with scarcely a moment to attend to God’s presence with us in every changing moment of our day.
In my visits to Dhurringile Centre, I have discovered that a number of residents find that they do have time to get in touch with their deeper selves. Some begin to look at the Bible. As they read, they may hit a phrase that causes them to pause – it may reveal something of God’s loving of them as they are; it may help them to realise that though they are physically away from family and friends God is gazing on them with love.
Whether we are young or not so young, our image(s) of God are critically important. Those images of God that we have maybe sub-conscious but they influence whether we experience God as distant and faraway – like a JUDGE to keep away from; or whether God is loving us and accepting us “warts and all”. He is knocking at the door of our heart waiting for our invitation to came and dwell within us.
However we will grow in this deeper awareness if (and only ‘if’) we make space in our daily routine to turn our minds and hearts to our God who is longing to be in intimate friendship with us. If we have “graced moments” when we sense that, we need to savour those moments.
There is, hopefully, a blend of personal and communal prayer in our lives. Our public or communal prayer is when we are here at Mass. It needs to be the flourishing of our personal (or family) prayer. Otherwise our coming to Mass can seem to be tedious even sterile.
On the other hand, we come to Mass with our brothers and sisters in the Lord to praise God - the giver of all good gifts. We come knowing as Jesus says in the Gospel passage that we have just heard “Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”.
I ask the question “What do you expect from prayer?” Most of us pray for things we want, but God often gives us something we need – e.g. the courage and commitment to do God’s will in tough times. You might want a better life for the ones whom Fr. Maurice Duffy used to call the “Good old Aussie Battlers”. God might answer your prayer by calling your attention to an opportunity to serve those on the margins of our community. There is a lot in our local press this weekend about HOMELESSNESS. I hope to attend the special forum about this at the “Sherbourne Terrace” tomorrow afternoon.
We can be so frank and honest in our prayers because Jesus reveals to us that we are intimates who can call God – FATHER. When we come to the Lord’s Prayer in our Mass today let us pray to Our Father with deep trust.
*17th Sunday, ordinary time