Praying as an Adult

Thursday of First Week in Lent

Esth C12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7: 7-12

Dc. Larry Brockman

Prayer! It’s one of the three pillars of our Lenten observance, along with Almsgiving and Fasting.  And Prayer is the topic of both of today’s readings.

Jesus is quite explicit about prayer in the Gospel.  “Ask and it will be given to you.”  He says whether you ask, seek, or knock on the door, God will give to you; will help you find; or will open the door.  And then he makes sure we know that not only will God answer our prayer, but it will always be with His best for you.

Yet sometimes we feel that our prayers go unanswered.  So, how do we reconcile that?

Two thoughts come to mind.  The first is that we are children of God now; and His relationship with us is truly like a Father’s relation to his children.  We can relate to a father fielding the requests of his children, can’t we?  Their requests are kind of like prayer, you know.  When they are young, they hold their father in great esteem.  There is nothing a father can’t do; he is the ultimate authority figure; he is the giver of good things; and he loves through and through.  He is always the person who disciplines; and to that extent, we respect and fear him.  Sound familiar?

Now, the things you asked your father for were not always the best for you-  particularly at the time you asked for them.  So, sometimes you were told “no”; sometimes you were told “maybe”; and sometimes you were told “later”.  But most of the time, as a good Christian father, he always did what was best for you.  And if you didn’t get what you asked for explicitly, chances are you got something more suited to your real needs.  So it is with God.

The other thing that comes to mind is that we need to make our prayer requests in a mature manner.  So, instead of praying to God the Father as a child makes requests to his father, we need to make our requests at a higher level.  We need to learn how to pray at an adult level.  That’s where Esther’s prayer to the Lord in the Old Testament can help us.

First, let me say a little about Esther’s plight.  Esther was a Jew who was selected for her beauty to marry the Persian King, but, the Persians were unaware that Esther was a Jew.  Her foster father, Mordecai, was a leader of the Jews in exile.  Mordecai had irritated the King’s number one man, Haman, because he refused, as did his Jewish followers, to kneel before the pagan gods.  So, Haman manipulated the king into issuing a decree that would have exterminated the Jews.  This decree was seemingly irreversible, else the king’s written word would appear to be compromised.  Esther knows that she has influence with the king, and so, we come to our scripture for today.

Notice these things about Esther’s Prayer.  First, she opens by praising God and approaching Him with humility.  That is established in some of the missing text, where she takes off her Queenly garments, and dresses in plain clothing for mourning.  Next, she admits that the Lord alone can help her, and even recognizes that approaching the King might put her own life at risk.  Yet, she asks not that God work some miracle; rather, that God will give her the wisdom she needs by asking that God;  “Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion, and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy, so that he and his co-conspirators may perish.”   And this prayer takes hours and hours and hours.  Esther shows great patience.

Esther is asking God to enable her to do God’s will; she is offering to take the risk and do whatever is required herself.  And she defers to the saving power of the Lord, a sign of submission.

So should we pray to the Lord our God.  Our prayers should openly praise God; and we should approach Him with humility and patience;  but most of all, we should ask him to enable us to do his will in the situation we find ourselves in.  And so, to have faith that He has already done it, and accept His providence.

Indeed, be confident to “Ask and it will be given to you.”


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