The gospel of Luke, chapter 18:1
Some people imagine that prayer comes forth spontaneously from an overflowing heart, and surmise that if the heart does not start to pray by itself they can never pray. Such a notion is just wishful thinking. It is true that forced prayer is no prayer, but it is also true that prayer, like any activity of value, demands effort.
You do not have to be a polished speaker to pray. Our stammerings are all accepted and understood by a generous God who knows the secrets of our hearts. No matter the confusion of your mind or heart; no matter how awkwardly you reach for words; God listens lovingly as a parent listens to children.
The parable Jesus tells his disciples in chapter eighteen of St. Luke’s gospel about a widow and a dishonest judge underscores the importance of not losing heart or giving up when you pray. The dishonest judge in this parable granted the window’s request because of her persistence. “Will not God,” Jesus says, “secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?”
Some people also wonder why we have to ask God to answer our prayers. Does not God already know what we want even before we ask Him? Did Jesus not say, “when you pray, go into your room, lock the door; and your Heavenly Father, who knows your needs, will grant them in secret?” So, why ask God to answer your prayers?
God respects our free will and He wants us to have a trusting relationship with Him. He wants us to ask Him to answer our prayers, like a parent who would say to a child who needed something, “why didn’t you ask me; don’t you know I would have given it to you.”
The lesson of today’s gospel is: if you do not ask, you will not receive. Even though the Lord knows what you need before you pray; He wants you to ask; He wants you to pray without ceasing because He loves you as a father.
And, as our Father in Heaven, He is eager to grant the prayers of his chosen ones.
Fr. Hugh Duffy