Short Catholic Homilies: Perseverance in Prayer
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In this short Catholic Homily we learn why God does not always grant all of our prayers quickly.
The Full Text of Short Catholic Homily: Perseverance in Prayer
Yet if he shall continue, knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise; and give him as many as he needeth. ST. LUKE 11: 8.
Many people complain that their prayers are not heard. Again and again they have made some special requests for temporal, or it may be even for spiritual, blessings, and nothing seems to have come of these petitions. Others get what they ask for, but they are not so favored; and they almost make up their minds that it is of no use for them to pray. They think, perhaps, that they are too great sinners for God to hear them; or that they do not know how to pray right; or they are even tempted to believe that prayer is a mistake altogether; that God’s will is not moved by it; that, if anyone does seem to get anything by it, it is only by chance, and would have come without it just as well.
Now what can be the reason of the failure of these good people in prayer? Is it, perhaps, because what they asked was really an evil for them, and so God – could not in mercy grant it, but had to give them something better instead, which they have not noticed? Or is it that they did not strive to do their best to win what they wanted also by their own exertions as well as by prayer; that they would not put their own shoulder to the wheel? If it was some virtue, such as charity or patience, that they were asking for, and meanwhile took no real pains to cultivate and practise it, no wonder that God would not give it to them. Or, lastly, is the reason for their disappointment that they were praying for others whose will was obstinately set against their prayers? A mother prays for her son, and her prayers are heard,, though they may not seem to be. Graces are granted to him, but he resists them. God has not promised to send them, in such a torrent as to sweep away and break down all opposition, though he may yet do so, if she will only persevere.
Persevere! Ah! that word suggests what may be the real difficulty, the true reason for the seeming uselessness of so many good prayers. They are good as far as they go, but there are not enough of them. The effect that is to come of them is to come all at once; it is like the fall of a tree in the woods under the blows of the axe: the tree will come down, but not at the first, the second, the tenth, or perhaps even the hundredth stroke.
Yes, my brethren, our Lord could no doubt grant our prayers as soon as we made them, but he does not wish to do so. And I think we can see at least two reasons why he does not. First, if he grants what we ask at once we will go off with what he has given us, and have no more to say to him. And; strange to say, he enjoys our society; he has himself said his delight is to be with the children of men. So he keeps us around him, though it be only to tease, as a father would the children he loved, if he could not keep them any other way. And, secondly, he knows that it is good for us to be with him; and that every time we pray in earnest we come nearer to him, and our souls become stronger. So it is that, both for his own sake and for our good, he sometimes will not grant our prayers unless we persevere in them for a very long while.
Our Lord has given us to understand this importance of persevering in prayer very plainly in the Gospel read on these days, called Rogation Days, between today and the Feast of the Ascension. He represents to us in the parable of this Gospel a man who has gone to bed, and is roused at midnight by a friend who wants to borrow some bread to set before an unexpected guest. He at first tells the disturber to leave him alone; he says that he cannot be bothered to get up at such an inconvenient time; he pretends to drop off asleep, and keeps his friend outside knocking and pounding for so long a time that he almost gives it up as useless. “Yet,” says our Lord, ” if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”
This is the lesson, then, it may be, for those who have had no success at their prayers. They did well to begin, but they did not keep at it long enough. Let them go at it once again, and keep on. Let them ask, and keep asking, and they shall receive; let them seek long enough, and they shall find; let them keep knocking and making a disturbance, and at last the door shall be opened, and they shall obtain what they desire.
An Excerpt From :
Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul. Five Minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year. Vol. 2. [S.l.]: Catholic Publication Society, 1886. Print. starts pg 255-257
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