BOTH the First Reading (Genesis 18:20-32) and the Gospel (Luke 11:1-13) in this Sunday’s liturgy highlight the importance of persistence in prayer. To persist is to continue doing something despite any difficulty one experiences along the way.
In the First Reading, Abraham bargained with God, requesting that the Lord not carry out his plan of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, in punishment for the people’s sins. “Suppose there were 50 innocent people in the city,” he asked, “would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?” The LORD replied, “If I find 50 innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham asked again, “How about if there are 45 innocent people?” The Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the 45.” Abraham continued bargaining, this time supposing that the number of innocent people was 30, then 20, and finally 10. The Lord’s answer remained the same; for the sake of the few innocent people, he will not destroy the city.
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples the attitude they should have when praying. He presents the illustration story of a person approaching her friend at midnight to borrow three loaves of bread. Initially, the friend who was approached refused to give bread because the house has already been locked and her children were sleeping. However, she later got up and gave what her friend was asking for, because of the latter’s persistence.
Like Abraham and the unnamed person who asked her friend for bread, God encourages us to be persistent whenever we petition him for something in prayer. Why? Because persistence shows our faith in him – our trust that he is a good God who will provide us what we need. “What father among you,” he said, “would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Effective prayer requires that we believe in the promises of God. St. John writes, “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
And what is God’s will? How do we know it? The Bible, in its entirety, reveals it so. As we read the written word in its pages, may we come to know more and more the Word made flesh – Jesus Christ our Lord.