Help, I’m not sure how to pray
It’s great to fall in love with someone but it won’t last very long if you never meet and communicate. In a similar way, the first and most important decision you will ever take in your life is not your career, where you will live, what smartphone you will buy but whether in faith you will respond to God’s offer of love and salvation (friendship) through Jesus Christ.
For many people, Catholics included, God is like the moon. He is there but not here. A distant cosmic being who makes no real difference to my life in a tangible way but only in some indirect way
But Jesus didn’t save us to have a group of mediocre people who try to avoid some sins here and there and if it is not too much inconvenience for them, to give some money or time to charity, important as there things are. He invites you into friendship, into intimacy with Him.
So the second most important decision you will take is to pray daily.
In every relationship communication has different expressions – speaking, listening, asking, hugging etc. So prayer has many aspects since it is a dialogue between two persons (unequal) – petition, intercession, meditation, praise, worship, adoration.
The promise we have is ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ James 4:6 because prayer is meeting with a God who is already waiting for you,
The purpose of the Parable
First of all it is important to note that a parable is a story with a teaching. It puts things side by side and invites us to compare or contrast. This is very evidently a parable of contrast not comparison. An example of one of comparison would be the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke chapter 15.
This parable of the Persistent Widow is one of the few parables that Jesus gives which comes with an explanation at the start and a footnote at the end – so it must be very important!
The 3 Points of the Parable
- Pray with Persistence
- Pray with Perseverance
- Pray with Patience
Some points about the parable itself
This judge was probably a Roman judge, who were known for their corruption. In the Old Testament it was evident that God wanted judges who were God-fearing and who had a profound concern for people and for justice.
Women at that time were wholly dependent on their husbands – so a widow was very vulnerable. She came to the judge alone so it seems she had no surviving male relative to take care of her. There were no social services as there are today so they faced poverty and hunger.
This widow was wearing the judge out. The word in Greek is a ‘boxing term’. It brought to mind person knocked out from repeated hits.
So today we speak about Petitionary prayer which is not the lowest form of prayer – rather it is vital because it shows our dependence on God (eg Our Father).
Pray with Persistence
St Paul echoes the words of Jesus in 1 Thess 5:16 ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’.
Are you serious? I’m so busy I can hardly find time to pray for a few minutes let alone continuously and with persistence. We are more often Marthas than Marys.
But if you want to pray seriously it needs to be DELIBERATE. Put aside the time, stop at different moments of the days. God wants us to pray PASSIONATELY
None of us , when we die will say ‘I spent too much time praying, I should have spent more time on Facebook or watching TV’
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it
(Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, Letter 5)
Pray with Perseverance
The point in the parable is not that if we nag and irritate God enough He will respond. The point is that if this judge answers for the wrong reasons how much more will our Heavenly Father answer us out of His love and goodness.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
God is love, He is totally unselfish. Whilst in Matthew it is ‘good things’, in Luke it is the ‘Holy Spirit’ that God gives those who ask. It is the Holy Spirit who takes us into communion with Jesus.
We pray because He told us that he wants to answer us. Sometimes what we want and need coincide with what God wants to give us – other times it doesn’t.
‘we must thank God that some prayers go unanswered. If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now’
Pray with Patience
In our society faster seems better; ATM, fast food, email, micro waves ovens. It is easy for us to approach our relationship with God in the same way.
Faith is simply believing God and his promises; Prayer is going out to meet them. That is why the Word of God is vital to prayer to growing in faith.
But our faith is also shown by being patient enough to wait. God is the God of seeds, sapling, leaves, plant, trees, flowers and fruit.
Yet there are other attitudes we need to cultivate in prayer. Read about them in Part 2.