Daily Reflection – 10/11/19
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.” ( Luke 11:15-26)
Once he has answered his critics, Jesus moves on to exhort his listeners to fill their lives with the kingdom of God, because it is possible that despite the exorcism, if a person persists in his old ways, he will be possessed once again and this will be ever worse than before. Filling our lives with the kingdom of God leads us again to a perspective on why prayer has to be part of our daily life..
We are encouraged always to pray with hope and persistence, believing that we always get something. In the asking is the receiving and we never leave prayer worse off than when we began.
Any time we give to prayer we get something. We are transformed. St Ignatius speaks of the effect of prayer – an increase in faith, hope and love. We may not get the specific intention but we always get the Holy Spirit. I have never left prayer the poorer than when I went. Knock and the door will be opened ….in the knocking itself something is opened. In asking and seeking we get something. The first gift of prayer is the love of God. Other gifts follow.
Prayer increases our trust in God. I pray to change me. I pray in order to allow God to work in me and transform me. I pray to be freed from unhealthy desires, to recognize God’s will and workings in my life, and to be soft and receptive enough to accept what God is trying so hard to give.
Jesus does teach persistence in prayer and says that those who ask will receive. But notice what he says they will get. He says that even more than a father would give his son good things, so much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. He does not say God will give wealth, physical healing, a sports team win, or whatever the petitioner requests. That’s a very different premise.
So I’ve realized that God will never give me everything I want. Instead, God will give me everything I need. God will give me patience, strength, peace, wisdom, knowledge, sensitivity, perseverance, faith, and more. God will give me the Holy Spirit. When I open myself to pray and allow God to work, God molds me into a better person. In fact, I often end up surrendering whatever I was so certain I wanted, because God knows what is best anyway, and I can trust that.
Remember, Jesus certainly didn’t have everything that someone in his day would want. But he had the Spirit of God alive within him, and every time he prayed, he deepened in relationship to the Abba God who loved him and sustained him. That is what allowed him to be effective, healing, strong, and prophetic. That is what gave him what he needed to endure suffering, betrayal and death.
That is what prayer is all about. It is not a laundry list of “give-me” requests. It is a deepening in relationship so that I can become ever more like Christ. When I ask for that, I will most surely receive.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship.
We affirm what Scripture tells us, and particularly what Jesus tells us in this passage: that we are invited into relationship with a loving God who wants to give us life, and who continues to work tirelessly for our redemption and that of all creation. That is what prayer is about. That is what a life with Christ is about.