I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1)
Paul made this request of his young friend Timothy, who was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul knew how critical it was to keep asking for God’s grace, both for ourselves and for those around us. He knew how important it is that we all continue to bring the needs of other people to God, “who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Paul’s words are worth hearing today, since it can be tempting to minimize our need for God and the power that his grace can have on our lives and on the lives of the people around us. We all know how easy it is to take God out of the daily equation of our lives and turn to him only when things are in dire straits. But we also sense that this is not the right way for us to go.
At the heart of intercessory prayer is the conviction that God wants us to pray for our friends and loved ones every day: for good health, for strong relationships, even for the tests our children take in school. He wants us to bring every need and petition to him, confident that he is a good God who wants to help his children.
So let’s never miss another day of praying for our spouse, children, relatives, and friends. Let’s pray for our enemies and those who have hurt us as well. Let’s cast our nets wide and pray for our parish, our church, our city, and our country. Just as Jesus asked his Father to guide us and protect us at the Last Supper, let’s also ask for God’s guidance and protection today and every day.
Be Persistent. He told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. (Luke 18:1)
What was the parable? It was the story of a widow who persistently asked a dishonest judge to rule in her favor. Ultimately, the widow prevailed-not because the judge finally became just but because the woman’s persistence wore him down. If a corrupt judge will finally give in, how much more will God, who is perfectly just and merciful, hear and answer us! As Jesus put it: “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7). So be persistent. Be bold. Be relentless. Don’t worry about wearing God out.
Another time, Jesus said: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence… . 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” (Luke 11:5-10).
Jesus could not be more clear: God is not like a dishonest judge. Nor is he like a friend who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. No, he is just, kind, and compassionate. He wants us to persist in our prayers. Why? So that we can push through any barriers of sin or unbelief that may be keeping us from receiving his blessings. He wants to show us that his plan and his provision are the best things we could ever have.
(Joe Difato is the publisher of “The Word Among Us” devotional magazine. To contact him, go to his website at www.joedifato.com. Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing us to use his articles from their October 2009 issue. Used with permission.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. How important is it to be faithful to this Scripture? “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1). What steps can you take to be more faithful?
2. In the article, we hear these words: “We all know how easy it is to take God out of the daily equation of our lives and turn to him only when things are in dire straits.” In what ways do you find this happening in your own life?
3. The article goes on to say that “At the heart of intercessory prayer is the conviction that God wants us to pray for our friends and loved ones every day.” How strong is your conviction on this? How well are you living it out?
4. Reflect a few minutes on the two parables Jesus told on persistent prayer in Luke 18:1-8 and Luke 11:5-13. What do you believe the Lord is saying to you through these Scriptures?
5. The article ends with these words: “God is not like a dishonest judge. Nor is he like a friend who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. No, he is just, kind, and compassionate. He wants us to persist in our prayers. Why? So that we can push through any barriers of sin or unbelief that may be keeping us from receiving his blessings. He wants to show us that his plan and his provision are the best things we could ever have.” If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another for the grace to be persistent in your prayers and to never give up hope.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, a Trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org/), and currently the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us to the Military and Prisoners. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)