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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C (24/07/2022)

Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13"

Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

We are to pray always; never stop praying and give thanks to God in every situation in our life. When asked "How are you?" most of us reply,  "We thank God."  That is the right attitude.  That is prayer?  How should we pray?  Why should we pray?  The entire life of a Christian should be a prayer offered to God.

Our first reading today is an example of intercessory prayer.  Abraham is pleading with the LORD for the righteous if they be found in Sodom and Gomorrah.  He says, "Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?  Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!  Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?" Abraham continues his plea for the city by reducing the number of righteous persons by five each time. Finally the LORD tells him he will spare the city if only ten righteous persons be found in it.

This is one way a Christian should pray because this was exactly what Jesus did for us on his Cross on Calvary. As St Paul tells us in our second reading today, God made us alive with Christ "having forgiven us all our trespasses" "nailing it to the cross." Jesus is the only truly righteous and innocent person who interceded for us on the cross and God heard his prayer by raising him from the dead

In today's Gospel reading the disciples notice Jesus praying “in a certain place.”  They ask him to teach them to pray just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples.  Jesus teaches them a simple daily prayer, a version of the most famous Christian prayer, the Our Father, or the Lord's Prayer.  It begins with a prayer of praise and glorification.   We pray that God's name will be recognized as holy ("Hallowed be your name") and that his rule, his governance and authority over all peoples will be established (Your kingdom come). Next comes a prayer of petition first for bread ("Give us each day our daily bread"), a petition for forgiveness ("..and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us") and a petition for deliverance  ("and lead us not into temptation").

Jesus goes on to tell a parable to reassure us that God answers prayers.  God always answers prayers even if he does not answer at the time we want or in the manner we want.  Jesus tells a parable about a persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight.  The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door.  But because the neighbor is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?  And so for Jesus prayer is persistence; we must continue knocking on the door until God answers us.  If we seek, we will get a response. If a human father, with all his faults, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us?  Father, teach me to pray as Jesus did with his life as a sacrifice; let the whole of my life be a prayer to you. Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.

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