This Sunday the Gospel reading is from John 17, Jesus’ great prayer for his followers. After finishing his last meal with his disciple, Jeus looks up to heaven and talks to his Father about keeping his disciples safe.
I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave to me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. (John 17:9-10)
We belong to God and to Jesus, we are woven into the fabric of the Trinity. Jesus not only prays for us, he models how we can enter into deeper relationship with God through prayer. Our prayer relationship is a gift from God that we sometimes try to push or pull our way.
Henri Nouwen has written many things on prayer that I find helpful. The following quote is from his Genesee Diary when he spent six months living at a monastary in 1975.
I wonder if depression in the spiritual life does not mean that we have forgotten that prayer is grace. The deep realization that all the fruits of the spiritual life are gifts of God should make us smile and liberate us from any deadly seriousness. We can close our eyes as tightly as we can and clasp our hands as tightly as firmly as possible, but God speaks only when he wants to speak. When we realize this our pressing, pushing and pulling become quite amusing. Sometimes we act like a child that closes his eyes and thinks that he can make the world go away.
After having done everything t0 make some space for God, it is still God who comes on his own initiative. But we have a promise upon which to base our hope: The promise of his love. So our life can rightly be waiting in expectation, but waiting patiently and with a smile. Then indeed, we shall be really surprised and full of joy and gratitude when he comes. (The Genesee Diary, p. 129)
Who has been a model of prayer for you and what have you learned from them?
Lord Jesus, like your disciples, teach us to pray.