Prayer- 17th Sunday Ordinary Time 2013

Coming up this Sunday there's a lot on prayer.
 Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here.

When I searched my own post archives I found to my surprise that I had 626 entries tagged with the word prayer and there's probably a lot more as I don't always label things. I'm feeling tired this week mainly due to the hot weather we have been having and my "normal" sleep rhythms have gone awry so I may or may not do more between now and Sunday...

Psalm 138  
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Is that so ?

Click here for a post I did back in May this year: A Miracle For Breakfast

Ron Rolheiser has a great reflection on persistence in prayer here- "A Canopy Under Which To Pray."

This quote from here by Karl Rahner, one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the last Century also hints on some of the frustrations we carry in prayer.

 "There is a great comfort in knowing in our bones the truth of these words. 
We have to continually balance two aspects within us: one which wants to know everything, to be everywhere, to be faithful to the energy and desire within. 

The other is that restlessness which knows that this can never really be possible, and that how we relate to what we don’t know is ultimately more important than what we do know."

In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable

we eventually learn that here, in this life,

all symphonies remain unfinished.

An article on The Mystical Theology of Karl Rahner from here.

Psalm 138 
Monks of Prinknash Abbey
This is such a beautiful psalm;one of my favourites.


On Resurrection Day God will say,
“What did you do with the strength and energy
your food gave you on earth?
How did you use your eyes?
What did you make with your five senses
while they were dimming and playing out?

I gave you hands and feet
as tools for preparing the ground for planting.
Did you, in the health I gave, do the ploughing?”

You will not be able to stand when you hear those questions.

You will bend double, and finally acknowledge the glory.

God will say, “Lift your head and answer the questions.”
Your head will rise a little, then slump again.

“Look at me! Tell what you’ve done.”
You try, but you fall back flat as a snake.

“I want every detail. Say!” 

Eventually you will be able to get to a sitting position.

“Be plain and clear. I have given you such gifts.
What did you do with them?”

You turn to the right looking to the prophets for help,
as though to say, I am stuck in the mud of my life,
Help me 
out of this! 

They will answer, those kings,
“The time for helping is past. The plough stands there in the field.
You should have used it.”

Then you turn to the left, where your family is, and they will say,
“Don’t look at us! This conversation is between you
and your Creator.”

Then you pray the prayer that is the essence of every ritual:
God, I have no hope. I am torn to shreds.
You are my first and last and only refuge.

Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head
up and down.

Prayer is an egg.
Hatch out the total helplessness inside.

by Rumi, from The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, 2001

 Prayer of St Anselm of Canterbury

O Lord my God,
Teach my heart this day where and how to see you,
Where and how to find you.
You have made me and remade me,
And you have bestowed on me
All the good things I possess,
And still I do not know you.

I have not yet done that
For which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
For I cannot seek you
Unless you teach me,
Or find you
Unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire,
Let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you,
Let me love you when I find you.

John O’Donohue wrote here in his book “Eternal Echoes” about our own individual prayer life :
“You can only pray through the unique lens of your individuality. There is no need for you to be in any way guilty about your reluctance or inability to mimic the formal prayers of your religion or the pious prayer of others. If you listen to the deep voice of your heart, that voice is at one with the unique melody of your soul. Your deepest prayer is the prayer of your essence. When you move deeper into the inner world and enter the temple of your essence, your prayer will be of one pulse beat with the Divine Heart.”
Sunday's Gospel

 Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’

I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

What father among you 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?”

A couple of years ago when I was reading this Gospel story, the image of "a heavenly door " above was posted by Fr. Austin Fleming at A Concord Pastor Comments.

By happy chance this co-incided with my borrowing of a library book by Joyce Rupp entitled "Open the Door."

It's purpose was designed as a six week process with a reflection for each day of the week "It explores the rich imagery of the door as a potent symbol for spiritual growth and leads readers to " search more deeply for their authentic selves in fuller union with God."

The opening quote from Rupp's book was:

"Open the door of your treasure today,
for tomorrow the key will not be in your hands."
Sa Di.

 Subsequently, I did a few posts on this theme of Doors and Prayer so I've posted the links to them below.

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