Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 16, 2016 - Persistence in Prayer

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  Year C

Reading 1:  Exodus 17:8-13
Psalm 121: 1-8
Reading II: 2 Timothy 3:14 - 4:2
Gospel: Luke 18: 1-8

A lesson from Exodus about persistence in prayer stands out as Moses kept up his hands raised in prayer while the conflict with the Amalekites was going on. As long as he persisted in prayer, Israel was winning. However, Moses could not continue that pose long without the help of Aaron and Hur who held up his arms when they began to droop. That was necessary until the evening so that the Israelites could win the battle.

That is how the Christian Community functions. Some are working diligently to spread the Gospel while others are supporting their efforts through prayer and sacrifice. In Monasteries and Houses of Prayer, that can be the main ministry. On the other hand, active Religious and other Christians offer their prayer and work for the good of all, especially for those who request their prayers.

Just as Moses appreciated the support of Aaron and Hur, we are grateful for those who help us in our challenging situations. It requires persistence and faith that the Lord is hearing us when there seems to be no solution to our problems. We need to trust that the Lord knows when and how to respond to our requests. We also need the comfort of those who provide kindnesses and support when things are difficult.

Each morning we, as Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for our families, friends, the Pope, world leaders, etc. We also pray especially for the intentions of those who pray through the intercession of St. Katharine Drexel here at the Shrine or elsewhere.

Lord, help us to be steadfast in our prayer no matter how long we must persevere, trusting that you know best how and when to respond.


  1. At a surface level this gospel reading could lead us to infer that if we just pray long enough God will give us what we want. The two main characters in today’s lesson are Moses and a disenfranchised widow. Moses prayed so long that he needed to solicit help from his friends to hold up his arms, but the battle was won. The widow badgered the judge so much that he gave in to her requests to get her off his back. However, we would be mistaken if we conclude that we will always get what we want if we beg God long enough. The duration of our pleading does not guarantee that the Lord will give us what we ask for.
    Sr. Melannie Svoboda, Sr. of Notre Dame, entitled this week’s gospel as “the grace of persistence” as there are many graces associated with persistence in prayer. First, prayer reminds us of our inherent incompleteness. Second, it keeps us in touch with our deepest needs and desires such as love, faith, justice, forgiveness, and mercy. Most importantly, persistence in prayer unites us with our Creator – our Source.
    The responsorial psalm is, “Our help is from the Lord.” Sr. Melannie writes, “God’s help sometimes comes in forms that surpass our pleadings. We plead for an end and receive the strength to endure. We beg for stability and receive the grace to change. We ask for more time and receive the gift of eternal life.”
    I have had many such experiences where I prayed fervently for a particular outcome and it felt as though God just wasn’t listening. So I’d storm heaven with my demands. The seeming lack of response, over time, has softened my insistence and brought me to quiet surrender. One of my sons has had addiction issues for over twenty years. His quality of life is so poor and limited that my heart aches. I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t answering my prayers for healing. Today, I recognize that I was the one who healed. I learned to surrender this concern that so deeply penetrates my heart to God. Thy will be done…I realize that my son’s path is part of his journey. I continue to pray daily for his healing and opening to the awareness of God’s Presence in his life but I can’t demand God to make that happen for my son; that healing process will happen through his pain and suffering. Perhaps he will not know the peace I desire for him in this life. But, with all my heart and soul, I know that my son is a beloved child of God who loves him more than I am ever could. My prayers transformed me; for which I am most grateful.
    Jesus told his disciples about the need to pray always and to not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Continual prayer to His Father, a plea that the situation that would result in his crucifixion and death be changed…if it was the Father’s will…That was not the Plan. Jesus accepted and embraced the cross and the ultimate result was Resurrection. Persistence in prayer is never time wasted. We may not get what we ask for, like Moses and the widow, but like Jesus we will gain so much more.

  2. Sr. Therese MW,SBSOctober 14, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    Amen! "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you." Jeremiah 29:12 - God certainly wishes us to pray for others and for ourselves; and trusting perseverance is very important.

    Pope Francis presented the following simple but profound "Five Finger" plan:

    "1. The thumb is the closest finger to you, so start praying for those who are close to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a "sweet obligation".

    2. The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

    3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God's guidance.

    4. The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick, or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

    5. And, finally, we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other groups, you will be able to see your own needs, but in the proper perspective; and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way."