Knocking on Heaven’s Door

October 20th 2019 29th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Mechanics of Prayer

Psalm 121: 1-7, Exodus 17:8-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, Luke 18:1-8

In my job as a travelling Pharmacist, I need to arrive at a store early in order to prepare the Pharmacy to open. Depending on the front store hours, the doors may be locked. Instinctively, I’ll peer through the glass door to see if anyone is there. This usually doesn’t work, because most stores have a vestibule and I just get my “outside looking in” reflection on the far glass. That’s when I’ll start banging onthe door with the determination of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Band Theory. I keep at it because, even though I can’t see anybody, I have faith that sooner or later someone is going to answer. Besides, where else am I going to go? Prayer is like that. There’s something we need that’s beyond our control and we knock at the door of an unseen God, because there’s just no where else to go, but there are rules to the process. In our reading in 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, Paul points us to inspired scripture to guide us in our Christian life. Prayer is a necessary part of our walk with God. So, let’s examine the principles that the Lord has laid out for us in His word in order to get a better grasp on how we should approach the throne of grace.

To start off, let’s look at why prayers don’t get answered. The Bible’s first requirement is that you must be a child of God. God is everyone’s creator, but we become His children through faith in Christ. We pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus (John 9:31, 1Peter 3:12 Romans 8:6-11). The Almighty does not obligate Himself to answer any other prayers. It’s not called the, “Hey God”, but the “Our Father” for a reason. Secondly, your life must be in order. God is very serious about this! He will not listen to you if you’re unrepentant of sin, see Psalm 66:18 or if you won’t reconcile with somebody (Matt 5:23-24). So confess your sins and be at peace with your fellow man. Thirdly, your motives must be pure and in line with God’s character (James 4:3). Lastly, you must pray in faith anticipating an answer and if that’s not the case, then why pray at all (James 1:6-7)? Let’s say that all these conditions are met, the next step is enduring in prayer.

In today’s gospel in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus uses the parable of the widow and the unjust judge to highlight the truth that God is pleased and anxious to answer prayer, but the one praying must never give up in his persistence for the Lord’s response. Why is that? One thing is that you may have to wait for God to arrange the circumstances for your answer. Another reason is that we don’t know how we ought to pray and the Holy Spirit makes intercessions for us (Romans 8:25-27). So, God may have something better in mind for you. Be open and patient for it. You may also need to be the answer to your own prayer.  For instance, if you are praying for God to feed the poor in your community, then you should get yourself involved with the food bank in town. God could be waiting for you to take the next step. Another thing to consider is whether it’s really a prayer at all or just a wish. God doesn’t grant wishes. How serious are you about your petition to the Almighty? This is where fasting comes in. It sharpens the focus and desire of our request and God listens. Laboring in prayer drives us deeper into our relationship with the Lord and makes the answer that much more glorious. In the end though, we are weak and we get tired waiting for God’s reply. We can find help to keep on keeping on by asking others to join in our prayers.

The battle lines are drawn! The army of Amalek against Joshua’s hastily conscripted Hebrews, who up to this point have never fought in a war. That’s the scene in our reading in Exodus 17:8-13. Moses knows that they are in real trouble. He stands on the top of a nearby hill with the staff of God. Like a toddler asking to be picked up, he holds up his hands in prayerful intercession for his people. Through the fighting, the Lord’s army prevails as long as Moses keeps his arms outstretched in prayer. He’s getting tired though, and when his arms go down the battle goes against them. This is a picture of us in prayer when the outcome outlasts out strength to keep at it. In our story, Aaron and Hur come to Moses’ rescue. They roll a rock for him to sit on and support his arms on each side. With their help, Moses can continue in his prayers and Joshua overwhelms the enemy. This episode illustrates that we gain strength  when others join in our prayer requests. God has provided a church community for us to bear each other’s burdens. He is pleased when we do. It builds our moral as well as drawing us together in unity and love.  When things get hard, the family of God is there to help. Don’t fail by going it alone.

Our reading in Psalm 121:1-7 reminds us that God is our helper, sustainer, and protector. The Almighty God of the universe has got your back! When you need help, where else would you go? So be persistent like the poor widow who would not take no for an answer. Ask others to join in prayer with you. Keep at it until something happens. Don’t lose heart! Bang… bang…bang on the door, baby!

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