WITH ST. MARY'S
THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Our Father graciously hears our prayers.
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
God actually listens to our prayers. This should be made abundantly clear to us through the readings for this Sunday. God listens to us when we are sincere in prayer; for the most part, many of our prayers of petition can be superficial or insincere. If we desperately want something and we pray to God for it, are we asking Him to give us what we actually need, or are we demanding that He gives us what we want? A persistent prayer of humble petition is the way in which we can be assured that God is actually listening to us and is actively playing a role in what is happening around us.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
Prayer itself is not self-explanatory, but it seems that each person has a natural desire to reach out to God. If we are not taught how to pray, what are we to do when that desire arises in our hearts and how do we know if we are praying in an effective manner? This is exactly what is on the mind of one of his disciples when Jesus is asked how to pray. Jesus responds with the prayer we know best: the Our Father. But Jesus does not simply hand down this prayer for us to repeat. He shares it with us as the perfect example of prayer along with an explanation of how to pray it. The explanation is quite funny, and points to the fact that Jesus may have had a sense of humor in his ministry: imagine a neighbor comes to your door in the middle of the night while you are trying to sleep and asks for three loaves of bread for his visitors from you. You may tell him no, and you may even deny him in a harsh tone. But if he is persistent, eventually you will give him the three loaves just to shut him up so that you can go back to sleep! This is how Jesus tells us he hears our prayers; of course, he will be far more patient and kind than we would be in the same situation. But persistence is just one of the necessary elements of us being assured that God hears and answers our prayers. The neighbor in Jesus’ example is not demanding the three loaves, he is petitioning for them. His persistence is not based in intimidation, but in desperation. When we pray, we cannot ever expect God to answer our demands. But if our petitions are persistent (and the Our Father is ultimately a prayer of petition), God will answer us and give us what we need.
Family activity to do at home: Prayer is ultimately us trying to communicate with God. As a family, communication is crucial to having a happy and healthy home; the same goes for our relationship with God. If we do not communicate with Him and if communication with God is not fostered or taught to us, we will lose our connection with Him in our relationship. As parents, you probably know exactly how to best communicate with your children and how they best communicate with others. Using that knowledge, teach your children how to communicate with God through their preferred method of communication. Below is an activity that shows how to create a prayer book with your children that focuses on how they can communicate with God at this point in their life.