FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: LORD, TEACH US HOW TO PRAY!
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 24 2022
*Gen 18 :20 – 32, Col 2 :12 – 14, Lk 11 :1 – 13.
We learn from today’s readings that prayer is both artistic (stylistic), scientific (systematic) and spiritual (mystical).
– Jesus goes into the pedagogy of prayer in today’s gospel at the instance of the disciples’ request after perhaps, observing him pray for sometime and trying to imitate him fruitlessly.
– Jesus gives the ‘Our father’ model as a perfect prayer in address, form, method and expression.
B. THE ‘OUR FATHER’ MODEL
The ‘Our father’ model can be analyzed into 5 kinds /aspects of prayer;
(a) Praise; Hallowed be thy name.
(b) Adoration / Surrender; Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.
(c) Petition; Give us this day our daily bread.
(d) Penitential; Forgive us our trespasses.
(e) Deliverance; Deliver us from all evils (Summarized here with emphasis on: Lead us not into temptation).
*By way of analysis, we can observe that what Christ wants us to do in prayer with regards to the present is Praise, Adoration, Submission to God’s will and Petition for our daily bread; what he wants us to ask with regards to our past is Forgiveness of sins; what he wants us to say with regards to our future is ‘Lead us not into temptation’.
C. THE ART & SCIENCE OF PRAYER
Still on the art and science of prayer, we must take note of the following points;
(a) Posture; God requires us to take the position of sonship, Gal 4: 7.
(b) Attitude; God requires us to have the attitude of persistence, Lk 11: 1-11.
(c) Pattern; God wants us to have the confidence /boldness of Abraham in today’s 1st reading, Gen 18: 24 – 32.
(d) Language; God wants us to talk to him in simple terms, Matt 6: 4. He is not deaf and will give us what we need and not what we want.
*The parable of the importunate friend advocates perseverance in asking under 2 conditions; the condition of need and the condition of friendship.
*That parable also ends with the assurance of the Holy Spirit as our guarantee in the condition of sonship.
*But take note that God is free to answer us with either YES, NO or WAIT!
D. QUALITIES OF GOOD PRAYER
Good prayer must have the following qualities;
(a) Boldness /Right standing before God.
– A good case study is that of Abraham’s prayer in today’s 1st reading, Gen 18: 20 – 32.
– From the 2nd reading of today, we gather a confidence from being brought to new life with Christ after baptism; he has forgiven us all our sins and cancelled every record of sins and all its legal demands, Col 2: 12 – 14, Is 1: 18.
– This new way of thinking affects our prayer style as we address God as ‘Abba father’, Gal 4: 7.
(b) It is charity – driven, ie other – oriented and not selfish.
– Abraham’s prayer was intercessory in character. His response to the corruption in his society was to make reparation and intercession.
*I don’t know our response to the moral decay we see in our own society full of secularism, materialism and immorality, so likened to what was found in Sodom and Gomorrah. Some say: ‘If we can’t beat them, we join them’. Others are on fire through aggressive prophetism, evangelism and intercession.
*Some dioceses in Nigeria have been branded as Grade 1 in maintaining a healthy state vs church relationship. But they should also examine their consciences to avoid compromise of faith values lest what was found in Sodom and Gomorrah be found among them.
(c) It seeks God’s will not our own will.
-It does not command God but approaches God diplomatically as Abraham did.
(d) It is persistent.
– Like the importunate friend in today’s gospel parable, Lk 11 :1 – 11.
(e) It is simplistic.
– We must pray in a climate of innocence, love and trust. Like a little shepherd boy spelling out the alphabets for God to form the words.
– Jesus’ prayer point at Gethsemane was not conclusive. It left the conclusion to God’s will, Matt 26 :42. These days, Pentecostals have taught us to finish ‘casting and binding and seal the whole prayer with the Blood of Jesus’, leaving little or no space for God’s will to come into the picture.
With so much emphasis today on ‘Prayer Contractors’ and the tendency of depending on the so called ‘Men of God’ to do the praying for the people, the consequence is that Christians’ confidence in praying for themselves and for the society is going down by the day.
– Today’s recommendation of the ‘Our father’ model constrains us to begin to think like sons and daughters of God in prayer. Every petition here imposes an obligation /commitment on the prayee such as; (i) Our sense of sonship before God. (ii) God’s lordship over us. (iii) Our asking for needs not mere wants. (iv) Our forgiveness of others. (v) Our resistance of all evils; the devil, the world, and self – not the monolithic concept of deliverance prayer we have today. May we still be humble again like the disciples to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray.
Happy Sunday dear friends!