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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Ongoing prayer begets a friendship and intimacy with our God

‘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?’

Is God a God of plenty, or a God of scarcity? To me, God is a God of plenty — He wants plenty of prayers offered up to Him before He answers my requests.

This makes all the sense in the world: The more we pray to our God from the depths of our hearts, the more we belong to God. God wins more of our hearts to Himself by inviting us to be persistent in our prayer. God is thrilled to give us more of Himself.

That is exactly what Abraham does. He is persistent! It’s obvious that God can’t find 10 innocent people in these two large cities. God spares Abraham and his family, but He can’t tolerate the relentless spreading of evil in mankind. Is God wrong in eliminating a population that is persistent in begetting children, only to corrupt those children they beget?

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we see the redemption that was absent in Abraham’s time is present in Paul’s time.

Christ entered the human race to redeem it. Christ by His cross destroyed sin and gave mankind forgiveness of all sins. Christ nailed our sins to the cross and forgave every one who has asked for pardon.

Through baptism, we have died with Christ and raised with Him to the glory of the Father. If only we were generous in welcoming God’s mercy into our lives, instead of trying to go it alone and foolishly think that we can avoid all sin. God created us in weakness so that we would have room to invite Him into our lives and allow Him to energize us with His love and mercy.

In the Gospel, the disciples witness Jesus at prayer. Apparently they haven’t seen this before — someone talking to someone else who is apparently present but invisible.

This opens their eyes to new possibilities. “Maybe there is someone besides my family who will finally listen to me. Maybe there is someone with whom I can speak whenever I have a need.”

This prompts them to make a request: “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He then gives them a prayer that enables them to speak with their God as their Heavenly Father. This was an eye-opener.

The prayer He teaches them is packed with meaning. First, it brings God into conversation as Our Father. This is an intimacy that took them by surprise, and opened their horizons as to who they really were — beloved children of an all-loving Father.

He then teaches them, “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.”

Will we always get what we want? Of course not! “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?” God will always give us something at least as good as that for which we asked, or something better.

When I was about six years old, one of my older brothers invited three of us siblings to join him in a campaign of saying a certain number of Hail Marys so that my parents would buy a garden tractor. Later he came back to check on us, and if we were faithful, he would give us a new quota.

Instead of buying a garden tractor, my parents bought a field tractor, and shortly after that, because of World War II, field tractors were not available for four years. I do not know if my parents could have raised the large family that they did if we had not had that field tractor for those four years.

At other times we may pray for something again and again and not receive what we prayed for. However, if we are at peace with not receiving that for which we so ardently prayed, we suddenly realize that the gift of peace is far greater than the item for which we prayed. Why? Peace is God’s gift to us.

Christ goes on to say: “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?”

Wow! This is the difference between a feeling of abandonment and a feeling of intimacy.

Ongoing prayer begets a friendship and intimacy with our God. We grow in our relationship with Him. We begin to sense His expectations of us. We begin to find ourselves being more patient with others and more compassionate to those who seem confused and lost.

This is God rising up within our hearts. Now life makes more sense, because every time we pray, we get a clearer sense of what really pleases Jesus. We are very much aware that we are on our way to our heavenly home.

Furthermore, we find a great consolation in sharing with others hope for their lives. They do not need to remain lost with a feeling of being unloved by God or others. When we reach out to them, giving them hope, God reaches out to both of us and fills both of us with His consolation.

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