In today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells us that we should always pray and we should not give up because we think that our prayer will not be granted by God. Persevere in prayer no matter what.
Jesus of course practised what he preached. I think for instance of his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane after the last supper in the upper room with his disciples. It was the last time when he was alone before his arrest and the trials of the night and his crucifixion next morning. Next to the olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane is the rock of agony, now enclosed in the Church of All Nations. A large area of the floor is a rocky fragmented platform where the natural rock breaks through the soil. Jesus knelt there in prayer to his Father, praying that the cup of suffering he was about to undergo might be taken from him. Yet Jesus surrendered himself to accept what God willed should take place. Three times he prayed (we do not know for how long) before he went to his chosen disciples to urge them to pray but they were sleepy and failed to do what the Lord asked.
Jesus asked God to spare him the hatred and rejection, and the awful physical agonies of the scourging and crucifixion. Also the weight of human sin down the centuries that Jesus had to carry so that the human race might be forgiven and reconciled to God. As he prayed his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. But his prayer was not granted though he prayed long and hard. It was necessary that Christ Jesus suffer for the salvation of the world.
Perhaps Jesus prayed also in the intervals between his court appearances before the high priest, Herod and Pilate. He certainly prayed as he was nailed to the cross; ‘Father forgive them’ When he was raised high on the cross, ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ and at the end, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
Jesus persevered in prayer all his life. Taught as a child by his mother Mary and Joseph her husband, when he was twelve during his first pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple, he asked them astonished ‘Did you not realise I must be in my Father’s house?’
In his early ministry in Galilee he prayed alone before daybreak to prepare for the crowds who would come to hear his message and to seek his healing. When he selected the twelve apostles, he first prayed.
After a day of preaching and healing he fed the thousands with bread and fish and when they left he went up into the hills to pray alone through the night.
In every circumstance, on every day, Jesus was constant in prayer, in intimate contact as the beloved Son with God his Father. By our baptism we have been adopted and become his greatly loved brothers and sisters, so we also should cherish our relationship with his Father and ours.
Regular daily prayer to God, the most holy Trinity, is a duty and joy for every baptised Christian. Indeed all human beings are in duty bound to pray regularly to God to whom they owe their existence.
This gift of prayerful access to our Father is a wonderful privilege. We must use it for our own benefit and for others in all kinds of need whether close to us or far off. The Lord invites us to ask that we may receive, to seek that we may find, to knock and the door will be opened. God may not grant what we ask but our faith assures us that God our Father will do more than we ask or desire for our good and for the good of everyone.
Crispin Harrison CR