Gospel Luke 11:1-13
“Say this when you pray…”
The question posed to Jesus in today’s Gospel reading is a genuine expression of deep humanity on the part of the asker. There is a profound existential awareness in his question; it expresses the basic human yearning for an ultimate meaning to life.
The question emerges from a fundamental understanding that we are often out of touch with, that I do not make myself, that I am given. ‘Prayer,’ writes Fr Giussani, ‘begins from our realisation that we are not the makers of our own life, that an Other is the source of this life, freely, instant by instant.’ (p. 122)
The desire to pray is witnessed in all cultures, but here Jesus unveils something unique – that the Mystery to which we attempt to connect with in prayer, is a ‘You’, an-other ‘I’, one whom we can call ‘Father.’
This personal nature of the Mystery opens up a new horizon. Here is a God whom we can call Father, who creates, not just once and for all, but continues to hold us in existence. ‘This brings us to a wonderful and revolutionary discovery: that we are continually wanted, in other words loved, by God; that to exist is to be loved by God’, (ibid).
Jesus teaches us that prayer is essentially an act of asking. The prayer he teaches is a list of petitions – it is a constant reminder that I am dependent; that I am reliant upon God for everything – that I do not make myself or give myself existence. All is gift. All is given.
This is incredibly jarring in our contemporary context, where a self-centred and constructivist view of the self dominates. We tend to emphasise activity and making, over and above contemplation and receptivity.
In prayer we come before God and acknowledge the reality of existence, we ask for our needs, we pray for his will to be done a will that ‘in fact means my completeness, supreme happiness’ (p. 92).
Point to Ponder
‘One must be superficial and lacking in common sense to see prayer as a cowardly attitude or entreaty as weakness. To ask for perfection and happiness is a need implied in our nature, and since man is essentially dependant, any other attitude would be foolish presumption and empty pride.’ – Luigi Giussani, The Journey to Truth is an Experience, p.123