Sunday, 25 July 2010

Gospel for Gays, on Prayer (Luke 11, 1-13)

Writing about the Gospel for July 25th (Luke 11, 1-13), Jeremiah at Gospel for Gays asks “Does god answer prayer?”

After first quoting the text and running through some expert commentary, Jeremiah gets to a personal perspective – one which I fully endorse, on the strength of personal experience. Here are some extracts:

This is a wonderful passage, and it’s not merely the story of the importunate friend in the night that is unique to Luke.  It’s Luke who links what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” to other sayings, thus providing a deep answer to the disciples’ demand:  “Lord, teach us to pray.”

For me, the most striking thing about the passage is the brevity of the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus spent hours – days – in prayer.  Indeed, I think his whole life was prayer – irrespective of what he was doing.


Yet when his disciples ask him how to pray, he doesn’t start where we would begin today – talking about how you should sit or stand or kneel (or lie down, a possibility accepted by Ignatius of Loyola – with the warning that you may fall asleep!).

Rather, he gives this deceptively simple set of 38 words (in English).

And then brilliant, literary Luke gathers up other sayings of Jesus about prayer and lays them out here.

And interestingly, there are two themes in those sayings:  generosity on the part of a loving Dad; and perseverance on our part, in asking for what we need.

Does God answer prayer?

That’s a legitimate question; some would say it’s the only question.

In my experience, the answer is “yes” – with abundance.

There’s an obvious “but” however, and Luke ends this passage with an important surprise when he has Jesus say, “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!”

The Holy Spirit?

Where did that come from?

Right to the end, the examples are concrete – daily needs, particularly bread in a society of scarcity.  Is this a trick, after all?  We ask for bread, or a paying job, or acceptance of our gay identity by a defensive hierarchy, or a partner, or a cure for cancer – and we get the Holy Spirit in response?

It’s a surprise, but it’s not a trick.

Jesus is telling us that our relationship with God is so intimate that even as we praise him, even as we rest in his silent and intimate presence, we must ask for the things we need, for the things our children, our friends, our neighbors, our beloved needs; for what the world needs – peace, for example.

And he answers, with the generosity of a loving parent.

(Read the full post at Gospel for Gays.)

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