The story is told about a doctor who was called in to see a very busy and quite arrogant patient whom he asked cheerfully: “Well, sir, what’s the matter?” The patient snapped: “That’s for you to find out.” The doctor said: “OK, I will call my veterinarian friend. He is the only man I know who can make a diagnosis without asking questions.”
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 18, 1-8), Jesus teaches us to pray, to pray much and to pray on. Elsewhere in the Bible, Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father already knows our needs, but in today’s Gospel, He instructs us to tell God our needs with tenacity and persistence. God listens to those who call on Him day and night, and He will not be slow to answer them.
God listens to all our prayers, said or unsaid. Whether we say much or say nothing at all, the bottom line is our trust in God whenever we pray. It is not what we do or do not do, but what God does whenever we pray. Prayer is not so much about us, as about Him.
“It is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.” A beautiful reminder for us about prayer.
Fr. Chito Suganob, our retreat master at the Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City, last week shared with us the meaning of prayer. He could not say Mass or the Divine Office all throughout his 117 days of captivity in Marawi, but he felt the reality and the presence of God through it all. Amid death, pain, fear and sufferings, he encountered the love and the strength, and hope coming from Jesus crucified.
There he was, this simple, diminutive and self-effacing priest, killing us softly with his blow-by-blow account of what he went through as a hostage that held us, his retreatants, captive. Why? He was sharing with us not just his ideas or his eloquence, but his life experience, his reflections, his fears, his hopes, his prayers, his very heart. And we listened with our hearts. Isn’t that what true prayer is all about — a heart-to-heart encounter with God?
Father Chito’s sharings were filled not only with heartrending moments but with spontaneous bursts of humor as well. He gave so much laughter and smiles to us his listeners. Should we not also make God smile by telling Him our joys, victories and gratitude in our prayer, and not just our miseries and problems? When was the last time you smiled at God in your prayer?
Father Chito was in constant dialogue and conversation with God, telling Him what was happening, and telling Him his thoughts and feelings. He questioned, he complained, he got angry, but through it all, he always went back to obedience to God’s will, in humility. Thank you, Father Chito, for telling us and showing us what true prayer is all about.
More than an activity, obligation, or duty, prayer is being present to and with God, in obedience and humility. Prayer is not so much something we do to God, as acknowledging who we are to God.
I will be going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe this week to thank her for her healing and protection. Let us continue to put ourselves and our country, and the world, in the embrace of our loving Mother, remembering what she said to Juan Diego: “I am here; I’m your mother; do not fear; I am near.”
Think about this: “When we pray, we become courageous to face our problems; we become strong to overcome our sadness and fears; we become light and bright in our thoughts and feelings; we find joy and meaning in everything we do and go through in life.”
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help us to pray on and be in constant communion with You as we journey on. Amen.
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