Praying Day and Night

Praying Day and Night

Jesus teaches us of “The necessity (for them) to pray always without becoming weary.” Luke 18:1

Psychology 101 tells us that, in case of repeated failure, the desired outcome cannot be attained unless the stimulus is reinforced by some success. This concept seems evidenced in our modern, fast-paced world of instant gratification as so many people grow weary and stop praying unless they get quickly what they want.

But I think that Jesus is trying to delve into the very core of prayer: Prayer as a vital necessity equal to air, food, water, and anything else we need to stay alive. We cannot grow weary of breathing, of nourishing our bodies, of taking in the necessary, daily, amount of water and so on. The necessity of praying always cannot be conditioned by the results that we would like. We cannot afford to pray say, once a day, once a week, or, God forbid, even less than that.

Those who can be considered true children of God call out to him day and night! Luke 18:7

Hmmm, so it might mean that our concept of prayer is incorrect or, at least, incomplete. Prayer is not just asking God for favors, thanking him for the gifts he has granted us; it is more than praising him, and asking him to forgive us; but it is, rather, something that involves our whole being from head to toe, mind to heart, around the clock, day and night, precisely. After all, even cloister nuns must eat, drink, rest, sleep and do everything else that is needed to sustain physical life or, rather, life in general at all its levels.

If this is so, I would like to share with you what is my definition of prayer: it is constant awareness that our entire life is unfolding, in Christ Jesus, under the watchful and loving eyes of our heavenly Father. To convince you of the validity of this definition I want to point you in the direction of our mothers. In our families, mother has always, day and night, even as she sleeps, this visceral awareness that her very existence, work, thoughts, projects, wishes, efforts are all geared to her calling as mother and wife.

If we apply this built-in awareness, this hard wiring, if you will, to our prayer life, what jumps right out is the fragility of our praying; how quickly we grow weary; how flimsy our faith truly is! So, whenever we do formal prayer, what we commonly refer to as prayer, at our bedside, in church, after Holy Communion, before meals, our mind flies quickly in all directions. Whenever that happens, we separate ourselves, or at least, we distance ourselves from our life in the Holy Trinity to which we were grafted through Baptism and Holy Communion. Even as we try to bring our minds and hearts back to awareness of our living in Christ, of having the Holy Trinity dwelling in us; even whenever we do some serious reflecting, we let the door open to possible thoughts, worries and situations that have the power to sidetrack us and, at times, even to crush us.

This is the reason why Christ concludes his lesson by wondering: But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18

Or will Christ find some of those very people who were grafted into him through Baptism and Holy Communion, distracted, overwhelmed, distraught, anguished, and exhausted? That persistent widow turned her insignificance, her next-to-nothingness into a powerful force with which the dishonest judge had to contend. Her whole life (day and night) focused on only one, firm point: to get that godless, unscrupulous judge to deliver a just decision in her favor. The rest of her life was lived in function of that point which had become “her whole life.” The widow found the judge’s weak spot: he had begun to worry about his safety; hence he granted her what she had wanted from day one.

What is the Father’s “weak spot?” It is his most ardent desire to show his love for us as he alone can. The evidence of this is, once again, shown best in the Crucifix. For this reason, the Eucharist is the apex of our Christian life. We are ordered to do it in memory of Christ, lest we forget the Father’s “weak spot.” We must know, then, that we can truly “push the envelope” because the Father is ready to give us all that we can possibly need since he has already given us his Son on a cross. (cf. Romans 8:32)

Each Eucharist must deepen in our minds and hearts the awareness of how much we are truly loved and, of our living in Christ. This awareness must be the basis, the visceral feeling that keeps our whole life together, with meaning, with great expectation and unshakeable hope—and without weariness. Hence, if this is the way we intend to live from now on, we will never feel crushed and/or overwhelmed by the weight of life. All the saints, especially those with whom we are familiar, give us constant evidence that it is truly so.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

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