Reading – James 5:17-20
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Amazing things can happen through prayer.
Trite line, right? Yes, when it comes to simply talking at God and demanding what we think is best for ourselves or others. That type of prayer, if we can call it by that name, is not particularly conducive to miracles in the world or growth in the spirit. Standing opposite this practice is the prayer that people like Elijah and Jesus engaged in and invite us to, a conversation with God that seeks to connect with, listen to, and learn from the Divine. This is the type of prayer that leads to inner conversion and a corresponding and positive change in outward behavior, to outward events like the drought and rain called by Elijah and the healings effected by Jesus. Such dramatic instances as these may not occur from our own prayer lives, but that doesn’t mean we have no reason to pray.
Prophets like Elijah are remembered and honored because they prayed, because they talked with, not at, God and spread His word to those around them. Jesus, whom we as Christians see as the Word of God in the world, did not shrink from prayer, either, even though he was fully divine, fully God. Jesus, we must remember, was also fully human, and he recognized his need as a human for God’s strength and guidance, his dependence as a human on God for all the good he did and experienced. Time and again in the Gospels we see Jesus retreating to quiet places to pray as well as instances where he prays to God in front of and with others.
Jesus’ life was a prayer, a conversation, dedicated to God; our lives should be the same, as best as we can make them.
We should definitely take time to be in silence with God, to meditate, reflect, speak, and listen, but we must also realize that prayer need not – should not – end there. We should extend our prayer to all areas of our lives, reaching out to God and asking for His help in each moment and trusting that he hears and answers us. Jesus tells us in today’s reading from Luke (11:1-13) that God extends salvation to us always; we have but to ask for it, and ask persistently.
Balancing contemplation and action in our lives and complementing each with the lessons of the other, we ask God to love, free, and save us and all of creation. God, through the very lives of prayer that we offer to Him, will respond to us, continuing His dialogue with and care for us to the end of time and beyond it – if we let Him.
Our challenge is this: Find God in every moment, big or small (how about this one? or this one? or – you get the idea). Venture out beyond our fears and journey inward to the core of our being to meet Him, our transcendent and immanent God. Speak. Listen.
God waits for you and for all of us. He speaks to us, just as He did to Jesus. He, the Son of God, prayed; let us pray like he did, O God, please. Thank you. ~