Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Prayer is not Magic

Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday Year C

“Ask and it will be given to you…” This is a powerful promise given to us by Jesus. But our experiences often indicate an opposite conclusion. We know that sometimes when we pray for something, even when it is for a good cause – e.g. when we pray for someone who is sick to get better. - our prayers do not get answered in the way that we want.

How then can we understand this phrase of Jesus – “Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you”? The key to understanding this saying of Jesus can be found in the first half of the Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.”

What does all of this mean? It means that whenever we pray, we are praying that whatever happens would glorify God and not ourselves. We are praying that God’s kingdom be established and that his will be done and not that our own personal kingdom be established or our own will be done. We are praying that we will become so dependent on him for our well-being that even our daily sustenance should be seen as a pure gift from God. This is the content and the goal of our prayer. This is the prayer that God will never refuse.

Sometimes, we think that we can manipulate and control God through our prayers. For example, if I attend a number of novenas or recite a certain amount of rosary, we may believe that our prayers will certainly be answered. Prayer is not magic. Prayer does not allow us to control God. Rather, true prayer brings about conversion on our part so that we can learn to let God take control of our lives.

We must remember that God does indeed answer all prayers. But his answer may not be according to what we may have envisioned. Sometimes, God says ‘Yes’. Sometimes he says ‘No.’ Sometimes he says ‘now’. Sometimes he says ‘later.’ Sometimes he says ‘this way.’ Sometimes he says ‘that way.’ Whatever be the outcome, God knows best.

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