When I was a kid, I remember seeing a commercial on TV for a financial services company where several different people would yell the phrase “It’s my money, and I need it now!” This company promised to help them get their money quickly.
This “instant gratification” mentality has become commonplace in our society today. The lengths that we will go to in order to avoid waiting know virtually no limits. There are programs we can join to help us skip the lines in airports, at the border, at sporting events, and at other places where large crowds are present. We can order food online, so that it’s ready the moment we arrive at the restaurant. We can even have things that we need delivered right to the comfort of our home, without having to brave the crowds at the store.
A danger arises when we apply this instant gratification mentality to our prayer life. When we think this way, we expect God to respond instantly to our requests, so that we can get what we think will make us happy. When God doesn’t respond instantly, we become angry, or lose heart, perhaps even thinking that God doesn’t love us, or that we have somehow failed in our faith. And all because we uttered one prayer, that we think should be answered instantly.
Our readings today tell a different story. They remind us of our need to be persistent in prayer. We are reminded not to expect God to answer our prayers the first moment we utter them. God’s ways are not our ways, nor does his timing work according to our perception of time. This is why the persistence in prayer that Jesus speaks about is so important. When we pray constantly, it helps us to seek to conform our will to God’s will, and to become more accepting of his plan for our lives. Prayer does not change God, it changes us! It helps us to be more and more open to receiving his grace in our lives. If we approach God as some sort of a divine gift giver, we are going to be disappointed. It is only when we truly learn to say “thy will be done” that we will truly see God’s grace at work in our lives.
At the end of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus asks a question. “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” In other words, do we trust that God will provide for our needs, even if we can’t always perceive his presence in our lives? This week, I invite you to pray for the grace to fully place your trust in God, and in his will for your life.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB