After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah. At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4: 38-44)
I wish I had the ability to lift a burden from your heart. But I can’t. That is God’s province. I wish I could bring about your greatest happiness. But I can’t. That is God’s province. I wish I could remove your greatest fear. But I can’t. That is God’s province.
But you may retort: “If it’s God province, why aren’t my prayers being answered?”
We need to put our lives on “pause” for a moment and understand effective prayer.
Too often, prayer is rote. Too often, prayer is a mumbled response for help. Too often, we are so overcome with the reality of a situation that taking time to pray becomes a second thought.
Today’s Gospel has no less than Jesus, the Son of God, physically exhausted from healing the sick retiring to a quiet place to both recharge and to pray. Therein lies the first secret to effective prayer.
Jesus went out “at daybreak” to a “deserted place” to pray. Those who are spiritually mature have their priorities straight. For Jesus prayer was a higher priority than most other things. For each of us, prayer must not only be a priority but an automatic response similar to how a parent gets out of bed to go to work or to care for a crying child.
Today’s scripture also gives us the second clue to effective prayer. Our prayer must spring from the actions of our hearts and our hearts must be rooted in a way of life where we truly care about another. Where we truly care about giving another time to listen. Where we truly care enough to put aside our needs and burdens and help remove a need from another.
When Jesus and the disciples sought a lonely place to regroup and rest, they found instead a crowd waiting for them! Did they resent this intrusion on their hard-earned need for privacy and refreshment? Jesus certainly didn’t but welcomed them with open-arms. Jesus put human need ahead of everything else. His compassion showed the depths of God’s love and concern for all who are truly needy.
The third piece of the formula to effective prayer is contained in two words: “trust” and “surrender.”
“Trust” . . . Our trust in God and in God’s plan for our lives begins with understanding that God is greater than us, but Jesus is one of us. He understands what it is to experience human fear. He understands what it is to worry about those we love. He knows what it means to feel helpless, because he was helpless before those who crucified him. Therefore, when we turn to God in it is important for us to understand that Jesus knows us completely. In that human understanding that he has as our brother, he knows our vulnerability. He feels our fear. He strengthens us to hand our lives into our Father’s hands.
He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly seek him out. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from.
“Surrender” . . .Possibly the hardest for each of us – surrendering or turning over our life to God. If we wish to be comforted, we must surrender to the Comforter. We must realize that it is impossible to comfort ourselves. Therefore, we need to ask God to change us, to make our hearts a manger where we can receive the gifts that only God can give. If we seek relief from fear, we must give ourselves to the Prince of Peace. If we want our anger to dissipate, we must ask God to soften our hearts. If we need relief from suffering, we must open ourselves to God’s love. If we want our family to be whole, we must believe in the God who can make all thing new.
Jesus never tires of hearing and answering our pleas.
Prayer of The Day
“O Lord, make my heart a manger where the Christ Child can be born.”
We can never intrude upon God nor exhaust his generosity and kindness. He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly seek him out. Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and Healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach him with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?