Monday, February 29, 2016

What Prayers Are Heard and Granted?

In my prayers, what do I ask God often?  To help me become a millionaire?  To keep me healthy?  To keep my family safe?  God understands these requests.  At the same time, Christ our Lord teaches us how to pray better.  We ask for daily bread especially for those who hunger now.  We ask for our daily food of God’s word.  Christ did not teach us to pray often for our monthly income or for the sure growth of our savings or investments.

Christ teaches us to pray for God’s Kingdom of justice and peace to come home to us.  We ought to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us in order to make the light of Christ shine brighter in our world, which still has many dark corners of worry over what to eat, what to wear, and what one can secure for oneself and loved ones.  “Seek God’s Kingdom,” and we will be given as well what we really need (Luke 12:31).  God hears all prayers, but grants only some of them.  Sometimes God says “no” to our prayer of petition because our Lord knows that we are asking for something needless or even harmful in the long run.
“Increase our faith” (17:5), as a humble petition to the Lord, is one that will surely be granted.  If bad parents can sometimes give good gifts to their children, how much more will the merciful Father give the Spirit of faith to those who ask him! (11:13)  The Spirit of faith and love is the most important gift of the merciful Father to Jesus, his believers, and those who seek rest and relief from suffering and sin. 

God’s gift of faith can be shown through an amazing event like a healing miracle.  What shows greater or deeper faith, however, is the fulfillment of our duties to God and neighbor day by day with humility and without fanfare so much so that, at day’s end, we thank God for whatever good we have done, and we say, “we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (17:10).

Great faith is shown by those who pray for enemies, tormentors or persecutors: “Father, forgive them” (23:34).  It is shown by those who actively hope in divine justice and peace despite a state of affairs in which corruption and violence abound; “the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails; the wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted” (Habakkuk 1:3-4).

The great faith that Jesus practiced throughout his ministry and offered on the cross is “the good deposit” entrusted to his apostles and believers down to our times.  It is our duty to “guard the good deposit” (2 Timothy 1:14) and develop it.  Thus it is better to pray daily for our faith to increase and to be nourished by God’s word, rather than for our wealth to increase or for our individual dreams to come true.