Jesus was praying. He was a man of prayer. His disciples saw that, so they asked him to teach them to pray.
Today we might make the same request. And what does he teach us?
First of all, that God is our Father and wants to give us good gifts. He tells them to look at the fathers among them. Do they give a snake when their sons asks for a fish? If they know how to give good gifts, certainly our heavenly Father wants to give good gifts.
But haven’t we all had the experience that we have prayed, maybe for a long time, and no reply from our Father?
The word that seems to be strong here is PERSISTENCE. Keep knocking, keep asking, keep seeking. I had a cousin who had a good husband but he was not Catholic. She prayed year after year for five years, 10 years, 15 years. I’m sure she must have of felt like it was doing no good. When they were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, he went with her to receive Holy Communion. Without her knowledge, he had been taking instructions and was now ready to receive his first communion. Tears filled her eyes. She knew then that it was good to be persistent.
And then we have Abraham. What a bargainer he was—even with the Lord. God was going to destroy the wicked city of Sodom. Suppose there were 50 innocent people there. Far be it from you to destroy the innocent with the guilty. Should not the judge of all the world act with justice? And then he goes to 45, then to 40, until he gets down to ten. How would you feel about bargaining with God?
And so we ask Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” All of us want to deepen our prayer life. Be aware that it is a loving Father we are approaching, one who wants to give us good gifts. Keep asking, seeking, knocking.
Fr. Jim Dugal, C.PP.S., is a preacher, retreat leader and former pastor who lives at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.