Year C: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: based on St Paul’s first Letter to Timothy 2: 1-8
In today’s extract from St Paul’s letter, he is speaking about the importance of prayer.
We tend to think of prayer as saying prayers - which to a certain extent it is - but, even within spoken prayers there are different kinds.
St Paul speaks of petitions and intercessions. These are prayers where we lay needs before God. They may be our own needs (petitions) or other peoples - where we intercede for them (intercessions).
He also speaks of prayers of thanksgiving - where we thank God for being God - but also His answers to our prayer.
We do sometimes run into problems with prayers of petition and intercession. These are often because we tell God the answer to our prayer without knowing the full question.
We tell God to cure someone - to sort out someone’s life - make the sun shine on a particular day - find us a parking space, etc.
When God “doesn’t answer” our prayer, we get angry - or disillusioned - or feel that God is being unfair.
This is a very tempting road to go down - especially when we are dealing with big issues - famine - earthquake - terrible personal tragedy and so on.
But God really does want the best for us. Where we see a part of the problem, God sees the whole of it. Where we can only see the situation as it is now, God can see how it will develop. Where we see God as the One to sort it all out, God sees that we are part of the solution ourselves and will not let us hand over our own responsibilities to Him.
When we turn to God and say, “How can You allow all this suffering?” - we must not be surprised to hear Him ask “Why do you allow it? What are you doing to solve the problems you are telling Me to deal with? How will you let Me work through you to bring light into darkness” As the song says, “Will you let Me answer prayer in you?”
Of course, there are things that are beyond our capacity - and then prayer may be the only thing we can offer. We must not, however, underestimate the power of that prayer.
Our prayer can act as a lightning conductor of goodness - God’s grace - into situations and can transform them from the inside. In time - and by grace of God, we may see the results of our prayer. More often than not, God’s solution will not be the same as the one we had in mind. And more often than not, we will find that God got it right!
And that is where the prayers of thanksgiving come in...
What does it mean for me?
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