Sunday Gospel reflections: Why we pray

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Detail, "The Lord's Prayer" by James Tissot, 1886-1894. Photo: Public Domain

Our daughter’s birth had been difficult. The struggle to bring her to light had utterly exhausted my wife. As I held my wife’s hand, my focus fixed on the table adjacent to the birthing bed. The nurses and doctors were bent over our newborn child. Their obvious concern and our helplessness as new parents drew an earnest silent prayer from me. A long night followed; the crisis passed.

A growing infant demands much in her early days. A young family’s activities revolve around meeting the needs of a new child. Our prayers changed as we matured together. From grace said before our evening meals to those at the children’s liturgy, said and unsaid prayers enveloped us.

The persistence of our prayer, the raising of our minds and souls to God, reinforced our own commitment to each other and the world around us. Forgiveness and reconciliation, thanksgiving and praise, hopes and desires blend into continued and continuing prayer. As St. Paul VI said, “To live, it is necessary to pray.”

In prayer we can bargain with God as Abraham did in our First Reading, knowing our creator is mercy-filled. Through prayer we can recognize, as St. Paul did, that God is open to receive us whoever or wherever we are. In the familiar words of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that our Father gives “the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Live. Pray.

 — Michael Dougherty


Genesis 18:20-32

Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8

Colossians 2:12-14

Luke 11:1-13

“The Lord’s Prayer” by James Tissot, 1886-1894. Photo: Public Domain

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