The Problem with Prayer

Thursday of the First Week in Lent

March 5, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings could be so reassuring about the power of our prayer, except …..

How often have you prayed
for something that you didn’t get?

 

Jean-François_Portaels_-_Esther
Queen Esther – By Jean-François Portaels

In our reading from the Book of Esther, Esther certainly puts everything she has into her prayer for deliverance:

She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids,
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.

The passage, in isolation from the rest of the Book, might lead us to conclude that Esther’s prayer is simply about her asking for, and receiving, what she wants from God. It’s about much more.

Esther, like Christ, is in a position to save her people. She must risk her life to do so. She is praying for the courage to do God’s will, to look past her own comfort and become an agent of grace in her circumstances.

Now that’s some kind of prayer!


Prayer can be like looking in a mirror. All we see reflected back is our own need and desire. We don’t pray honestly and openly enough to let God open a door in the mirror – a door into God’s own will and hope for us.

Mt7_7 doorJPG

That’s the door Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel.

What we ASK is not just for something we want, but rather to know God’s heart.

What we SEEK is not our own satisfaction, but the grace to embrace God’s mysterious energy in our lives no matter how it comes to us.

What we KNOCK for and desire to be opened to us is deeper love and fuller relationship with our loving God.

Sometimes, the problem with prayer is that we think it’s like asking our rich uncle for a permanent loan. It’s only when we comprehend that prayer is a relationship that the RECEIVE, FIND, and OPENED parts become real for us.

Music: Prayer Is the Key to Heaven – Alan Brewster

( Uncharacteristically, I went old-time revival with this one — but I think the song has something to say. I hope you enjoy it, dear Friends. And for something more classically beautiful, see Handel’s piece below.)


Sinfonia from”Esther”  – George Frideric Handel

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