October 15, 2016

29th Sunday - C


Prayer – More than Asking for Things and Favors

Sometimes, we limit our prayer to asking God for favors. 

There are non-verbal prayers (for example, meditation) and verbal prayers (which can be said out loud or silently).  Traditionally, verbal prayers are put into four categories.
1. Prayer of Adoration (praising God) and Thanksgiving
2. Prayer of Petition (asking for what we ourselves need)
3. Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need)
4. Prayer of Contrition (asking for forgiveness) 

In the Gospel of Luke, which we listen to during this liturgical year, there are examples of all four types of verbal prayer. 

Last week, we learned from the Samaritan leper prayer of adoration and thanksgiving.  Once he was cured, he returned to Jesus, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.”

Today, we have an example of prayer of petition.

Next week, we will learn from a tax collector how to pray for forgiveness.  

At other places in Luke’s Gospel, we also have examples of people who pray for others (for example, the centurion who asks Jesus to cure his sick servant in 7:1-10).

It is important to know that prayer is more than asking God for things and favors.

In addition, in Luke, Jesus teaches us the right attitude of prayer.

 Two weeks ago (27th Sunday), in Luke 17:5-10, using the image of the servant coming in from the field, and still expected to serve his master, Jesus told us of who we are and who God is, and that God does not owe us anything.  All that we have and all that we are come from God’s gracious love and generosity.  Humility and gratitude are essential in our prayer.

The week prior to that, with the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, we learned that prayer cannot be separated from charity and sensitivity to the needs of people around us. 

Today’s parable encourages us to pray with trust because God, who is the opposite of the wicked judge, will grant us what we need for our salvation and wellbeing. 

May the reflection on these Gospel passages help enrich our prayer life, and ultimately, deepen our relationship with God.

[1]  The classifications of these four categories of prayer may varied.  Sometimes, prayer of adoration and prayer of thanksgiving are separated, but prayer of petition and contrition are combined.  

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