10th Sunday in Ordinary Time


by Lucinda M. Vardey

Many of us carry around lists of the needs of all the people, projects and problems we ask God to solve. We light candles in church, we pray the rosary, we have Masses said, and we ask others to join us in our intentions.

For beginners in prayer, it is quite common to give up asking, hoping and believing, when nothing seems to be happening in response to our efforts. For those who have experienced prayers answered, time and time again, know that it is not what you pray for, but how you pray that makes the difference.

Guidance in prayer can be gleaned from today’s readings recounting Elijah’s petitions, which brought a dead child back to life, and Jesus’ compassionate action, aroused from the tears of a bereft mother and widow at Nain. Two key elements about prayer emerge from these stories: one is believing in the power of God’s intercession through persistence, and the other is to let our hearts be moved and involved in our petitions.

Prayer that is heard is, naturally, prayer that is deeply felt, with great reverence and love, the sort of prayer that requires commitment: perhaps the taking of a pilgrimage or a few days on silent retreat, or a novena, or sacrificing one’s own time to necessitate the benefit of another.

Love cannot give up, so praying in love always reaches the heart of God and creates the conditions for God indeed “to look favourably on his people.” (Luke 7:16)