HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 24 2022
1. Imagine that there’s no place where we see Jesus praying together with His disciples in Scripture. They only watched him pray. Had they prayed with Him, they could’ve learned by praying. They wouldn’t have asked Him to teach them to pray. This means that Jesus really didn’t force them to pray with Him. The only time He requested three of them to watch and pray with him, they slept. Jesus wanted them to catch the interest by themselves. The same way a student admires the knowledge of his/her teacher, or a child watches and learns from the habits of its parents/elders, so also the disciples got motivated to ask to be taught prayer. How I wish we have many a man of prayer like Jesus, we must have flooded the whole earth with prayer. Prayer life is attractive and magnetic that it can spark up a ‘Spirit of supplication’ (Zech 12:10; Jude 20; 1Thess 5:17, Eph 6:18)) within a heart.
2. Jesus went right into teaching them to pray: that is the birth of the most popular prayer in Christendom – “Our Father.” Very remarkable is the
Way the prayer was crafted. It starts with acknowledgement. God is Father, to whom we are children. Actually, prayer is the “children’s chat with the Father”. That makes prayer a relationship engagement. Just knowing that God is Father emboldens us to come to Him in prayer.
3. If God be our Father, our answers are guaranteed. For no father, not even an earthly father can give his children evil gifts (Lk11:12-13). That implies we shouldn’t ask our Heavenly Father for something evil, because He won’t grant it. He is the Father of good gifts (James 1:17). Jesus even goes deeper to refer to God as our “Friend.” If God be our Friend, who never sleeps as our earthly friends do, He will grant our request at any point in time – whether in the morning, afternoon, evening, night or midnight. This knowledge is deep. We should therefore come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy from God, Our Father! (Heb 4:16).
4. His Name, Kingdom and Will are highlighted in the first part of the prayer, showing that God’s name, Kingdom and Will are interconnected towards achieving God’s glory on earth. By praying for the hallowing of His Name; the coming of His Kingdom; and doing of His Will, we realize that we have a part to play in bringing God honor and glory, and in advancing the era of His reign on earth. By obedience to His will at all time and all places, His Kingdom will come upon us, and His name will be held holy in all the earth.
5. Sustenance: we pray for daily bread not for a storehouse of bread. God is the God of Providence upon whom we must trust for our daily provisions. Even the manna was a daily provision in the Old Testament, and not a weekly or monthly supply.
6. Forgiveness is a vital ingredient of prayer. It determines if the prayer will go well or badly. In every prayer, we do ask for forgiveness in order to stand acceptable in His sight. That means His forgiveness is a platform we stand upon to ask Him for favours. So, if we have not forgiven those who hurt us, then we lose His own forgiveness. And if we forfeit His forgiveness and go ahead to make requests, we may be praying in vain.
Therefore, if Jesus taught His disciples to pray and not really on how to preach, that makes prayer a serious matter; for we must build a relationship with God before we can talk to men about God. Prayer is the live wire for holy living and for ministry. Let us go back to the school of prayer and ask Our Lord to teach us how to pray!