He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.’ And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.”And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
This weekend is Saturday the 27 and Sunday 28 July, beginning the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time.
The University of Johannesburg Choir sings a setting of the Lord’s Prayer.
This weekend’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke.
It was quite common for Jesus to be found at prayer. Quite often we hear that he’s gone off to a quiet place, sometimes on his own, sometimes with just his closest followers. Seeing him go to prayer, watching him look for quiet solitude in order to pray, must have made a big impact on them. In the Gospel story for this Sunday, there’s a lovely moment when some of them realise that there is attractiveness about prayer and they are moved to ask Jesus to teach them to pray.
Do you notice an attraction to the idea of praying? Do you feel that attraction now? As you move into this weekend’s prayer, ask the Risen Jesus, present to you now, to teach you about prayer, as he taught his own first followers.
Only a few moments later, Jesus went on to share with them a story that was an example of one kind of prayer, the prayer of asking, persistently. Very likely it was a well-known local anecdote, about someone waking up their neighbour in the dead of night needing a loaf of bread to feed an unexpected guest. It might even have been told as a funny story, told again and again among friends! Imagine Jesus telling this very story, smiling as he does so … imagine the disciples smiling too as they recognised this familiar tale … and notice how the deeper meaning, that Jesus wants them and us to see, begins to emerge …
As you listen to the Gospel story again, allow yourself to be drawn to speak directly with Jesus, as one friend speaks to another, about whatever desire you feel within you for deeper more abundant prayer.
In these last few moments of the meditation, ask Jesus for what you want, in the deepest part of you … allow him to respond, in a way that surprises and delights you … .