My words fly up; my thoughts remain below:
words without thoughts never to heaven go.
William Shakespeare’s above words in Hamlet make it clear that he believed in some way in the power of prayer. The Readings of this (seventeenth) Sunday, especially the 1st Reading from Genesis and the Gospel from St. Luke, demonstrate the vital importance of prayer, with a strong emphasis on the prayer of perseverance.
The late American Catholic author, Thomas Merton, was asked by a friend who was worried because of his difficulty in praying and was told, “Give it time.”
In Genesis Chapter 18 we are given a great reflection of God’s generosity to, and forgiveness of, all of us; Abraham pleaded with God for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to save them from destruction, and eventually God relented to his prayer.
In St. Luke Chapter 11, the disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them how to pray and he taught them ‘The Our Father’. In doing so, Jesus provides the outline for perseverance in prayer to the Father, whom we can ask for anything.
As a child my experience of prayer was watching others. My father, after Sunday Mass, came home and went straight into the rarely used parlour and said his prayers; he was not to be disturbed. In contrast, Uncle Louis knelt down every morning on the kitchen floor and prayed as we, the young children, played or ate breakfast.
In the evening we were told to kneel down, leaning on chairs to say the rosary with trimmings. This exercise was often a cause of merriment for which we were chastised for seeing who could say The Our Father the quickest.
In school a Christian Brother gathered our class each Friday and spoke to us about prayer and helped to connect what we were saying to our everyday life; we looked forward each week to this session – it was different.
Many books have been written on the subjects of prayer, meditation, contemplation and so on; however, in the long run, the themes all go back to the prayer Jesus taught – The Our Father.
A Catholic magazine in the United States did a poll on the subject of Spirituality and what it meant; prayer was the result. Deep down we all have an innate longing to get in touch with God. In saying The Lord’s Prayer, it can be helpful to look ahead and see how it can help us in our everyday life.