Saturday, July 6, 2013

17th Sunday in OT (C) - How do you Pray?

Luke 11: 1-13
July 28, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed.  I cannot get up to give you anything.’

I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

REFLECTION: How do you pray?

Every time we pray, we usually ask for something. We seldom pray otherwise. We always ask God to grant us something we need or direly ask: “Lord, pahingi ng ganito” (Lord, grant this…), “Lord, pahingi ng ganyan” (Lord, grant that…), “Lord, sana po manalo na kami sa Lotto” (Lord, we hope to win the lottery), and the likes. That is the usual manner of our prayers.

We somehow find it “cute” to hear parents telling their children to pray in this manner: “Lord, give us some pe-pe.” (Pe-pe is a pinoy baby term for money.) Even kids adopt this pinoy (Filipino) style of prayer. “Lord, I pray for lots of money this Christmas, or at least for me to play computer games.”
Funny as it seems, but it is true. It's like we are telling God to grant us something because he has a bodega (store room) full of material things that He can give us. We often regard God like a genie who can give us everything we wish. That is the drastic Filipino way of prayer. It’s very personal, yet very selfish to the ear.

In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus talking about prayer, teaching His disciples what the world would come to know of as The Lord's Prayer. We hear this prayer every single day, especially when we go to Mass. We even sing it at the top of our lungs, hands outstretched, with eyes closed. We call God as Our Father.

We consider God as our Father, and because of this, we ask Him every single thing we could imagine. But sometimes, we pray for our own benefit, not for our brothers and sisters. We ask God to forgive us of our many sins, but do we even lift a finger of forgiveness to somebody who has hurt us? We ask God not to lead us to the test or to the evil one, and yet we lead our own feet and those of others to our own harm.

We pray, but do our lives pray with our words? Rarely does it happen.

If we feel happiness, sadness or excitement, the body expresses it in a unique way. Same thing goes with prayer. We do not only babble every time we pray; our body – our whole life – prays with our words. We offer our life.

We are a living irony if we pray to God for long life, but we abuse our bodies with drinking, smoking or drugs. We pray for good fortune, yet we spend our money on waste. We pray to God with every beautiful word we know, and yet we curse and tell vulgar words to our neighbor, or child, or mother. If we are these kinds of people – praying yet not witnessing to our prayer – then, we are the Living Irony.

We have this adage in Filipino: “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.” (Work is to man as God is to mercy.) If we ask God to forgive us, we must also know how to forgive others. If we ask God of something, we must know how to manage it and use it for our good and for the good of others. If we pray for safety, we also know that we must follow safety rules every time and everywhere. We pray, but we are also responsible.

God listens to every prayer, but we must also see to it that what we seek, ask or knock – whatever we pray Him – must be in accordance with what we are capable of. We must also be patient. He could not give what we don’t need. Everything He gives us is enough for our use, in the right time.

When we receive, we must also give. That's the secret of graces. We pray God to grant our petitions. But we must remember that when the time comes that He gives us the grace we need, we, in turn, must also give what we have received to those who are in need.

Finally, when we pray, don't just ask something. Above all, give thanks! If our life is filled with many petitions, we can say that our life is one without contentment. If we know how to pray with thanksgiving and praise for everything we have, everything would come flowing without any hard deal.

Real prayer is a prayer when we consider ourselves as nothing in God's eyes. We ask His grace for us to live according to His will. We give thanks for everything we received. We ask forgiveness because we are sinners. We ask for everything we need according to His will.

That is real prayer. But this becomes more powerful if our life is patterned after our prayer. We pray, and we live.


WELDANN LESTER A. PANGANIBAN is a member of the Institute of Preaching Lay Missionaries in Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City. He is also an English Teacher at the Immaculate Conception Parochial School, Malabon City.


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, Laity, Prayer, Forgiveness, Mercy, Irony, IPLM, Neighbor

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