Clearly, â€œpersistenceâ€ is the word of the day.Â Ask, seek and knock and we will receive, find and be welcomed.Â But what is it exactly that will be given to us?Â To illustrate, I have been praying for priest-friend these last days and his situation has not been resolved; a few months ago I buried a lovely parishionerâ€”JoAnne Gulloâ€”after having prayed for and with her for years; a priest of our diocese is not recovering very well from being stricken with serious illness and heâ€™s barely hanging on to his life.Â For each of these and so many more things Iâ€™ve been praying, but when asking, seeking and knocking, Iâ€™m finding it almost impossible find the Lordâ€™s response.Â Yet, He still invites me to be persistent in prayer.Â Why?
In todayâ€™s first reading, we hear of the immediate results of Abrahamâ€™s prayer: God promises to save Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of a mere ten righteous inhabitants.Â So, what about Godâ€™s response in other instances?
I wonder if my prayer could be better framed: recall the Lordâ€™s Prayer and our constant request that Godâ€™s will be done.Â This might be significant: if my prayer is to be that Godâ€™s will be done in these many challenging situations, just what will Godâ€™s will look like?Â I would suggest there are two important ingredients that help to shape Godâ€™s will.Â First, I would hold that Godâ€™s will very much involves His desire for me (and, for that matter, every one of us) to experience LOVE.Â To experience, feel and know that I am fully loved by God; to be able to grow in my love for God in return; to be able to freely love and be loved by others.Â This is Godâ€™s greatness of will: that each of experience more and more fully LOVE.Â Second, I believe that Godâ€™s will is that we also experience FAITHFULNESS.Â At the core of the human soul, we desire a love that is faithful, enduring, unending, constant.Â I desire your faithfulness, for example, when the bells of the church toll and you gather for the Eucharist; you desire my faithfulness to lead our prayer well; husbands and wives desire a steady and enduring faithfulness in their openness, their care & support, their cherishment of the other; children desire and long for the faithfulness of their parents; citizens desire faithfulness from government and society; and so on.Â Even throughout the Scriptures we see examplesâ€”time and againâ€”of Godâ€™s faithfulness to us and to His promises for us.Â So LOVE and FAITHFULNESS make up Godâ€™s will.
Back to this persistence in prayer embodied in todayâ€™s readings.Â Note well that, in the end, Abraham did not receive the spirit of his petitions: Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed.Â Was it that God did not receive Abrahamâ€™s plea?Â No, but in His will, God desires that goodness which, in this instance, is Justice.Â As the citizens of those two cities did not desire God nor His will, justice demanded that a punishment be meted out.Â In our Gospel, Jesus invites us to continue to ask, seek, and knock, but He never promised WHAT would be given, WHAT would be found.Â Instead, itâ€™s left open to the will of our heavenly Father.Â And isnâ€™t this crucial to our relationship with such a loving Father: that we trust His LOVE, His FAITHFULNESS, His GOODNESS toward us?
Finally, what of the various prayers Iâ€™ve been offering lately?
As we all know, the human condition always involves the struggle between good and evil, health and sickness, death and life.Â So, when I accept that I cannot escape such struggle, when I finally can admit that I am not the all-powerful God, only then can I begin to rest in Godâ€™s goodly care and constant presence.Â That when I am suffering, God is near; when my priest-friend is in such pain, God can now become the new source of his consolation and peace; when a couple is having difficulties in marriage, then humility, honesty and compassion can become new hallmarks in their love; when a parishioner dies, Godâ€™s will is accomplished in the resurrection of the dead.
Yes, God hears and answers our every prayer: we simply need to learn to see Him, trust Him, love Himâ€¦and His holy will…a will filled with LOVE and FAITHFULNESS!
May each of us experience the answers to our prayers, prayers that allow Godâ€™s will to come upon us, bless us, and remain close to us always.