The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
October 20th 2019 – 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Luke 18:1-8
For those who take every word of Jesus literally, they will find what Jesus says in today’s gospel what might seem an impossible command. Jesus invites us to “pray always.” Always is never easy. How can we be praying always with our busy and often distracting lives?
“Impossible,” responds the mother of three children who are all under six years old. “It can’t be done,” says her friend who has a full-time job and is caring for her ailing mom. “Great idea, but not practical,” she adds. “Not today,” says the teen whose life is filled with school, sports and friends. “Besides, I have homework to do.”
So how can we even approach the ideal of praying always? First, it’s important to notice that Jesus did not request that we “say prayers” all the time. He simply said to pray. Maybe we can be helped by recalling a traditional description of prayer which is “the lifting of the mind and heart to God.”
Here are some images that may assist us in thinking of how to “pray always.” Imagine prayer as background music while you work. Imagine prayer as the star-filled night sky as you journey to the grocery store for milk and bread. Think of it as the smell of pine as you walk along a forest trail. Think of it as the hum of your motor as you drive. In other words, it’s possible to be conscious of more than one thing at a time.
Remember that Jesus was not a hermit or a recluse. In fact, he was a very busy man, a man often “on the road.” He traveled widely, interacted with and helped both friends and strangers. Yet he remained aware of God’s presence “in the background.” Occasionally, he would focus only on God. The gospels mention this.
While we can be very busy, it’s sometimes helpful to stop for a moment, catch our breath and just be present to ourselves (even that is a challenge) and to God‘s presence. God likes that kind of prayer. Like teens calling home to let parents know that they are okay, that’s often enough contact. Parents ask their children to “stay in touch.” It’s like prayer, which is simply staying in touch with God while all the rest of life happens.
©David Thomas, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org)