Gospel Luke 18:1-8
“Pray continually and never lose heart.”
We hear these words and feel that they ask something impossible of us, and so we are tempted to dismiss it out of hand.
In the early centuries of Christianity, there were some, as there are today, who stole away to live a life of constant prayer, often alone in the desert, but later in monastic communities.
This specific calling that some receive and live out, is for those of us still ‘in the world’ a witness to the kind of radical communion with God that is on offer, and should be sought after in all walks of life. The challenge for us, who live and work ‘in the world’ with jobs, and studies, and families to attend to, is how we can live out this call to pray constantly, all the while attending to our real and important tasks.
How do we do this? The great saints throughout the ages have recommended that, in order to pray constantly we first need to set aside and prioritise specific time(s) for daily prayer. In this, we are to seek conversation with God – to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
The treasury of the Church’s tradition is replete with a wide variety of prayer practices, but all remind us that most fundamentally prayer is a gift of God to us, more than it is the other way around. In prayer we, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, first and most fundamentally open ourselves to the indwelling of the Spirit. Union with God in prayer is not the result of a specific technique that can be mastered, it is solely a gift.
Making time then, perhaps at the beginning and end of each day, to encounter God present among us, to spend time with Him, to share with Him our cares and troubles, to thank Him for the many gifts which He so generously bestows upon us is the first step to this constant prayer/communion to which we are called.
Transformed by this daily encounter, we then can live each moment in the presence of God with us.
We must request the strength of the Father, the strength of God. The strength of God is a man, the mercy of God has in history a name: Jesus Christ… We must request Jesus! “Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord” is the cry that sums up all human history, the history of the relationship between man and God in the Bible. Go and get the Bible, on the last page, the last words are these: “Come, Lord”. We must pray. It is a begging, it is not a strength, but the extreme weakness, the extreme expression of the knowledge of the weakness that is in us. The awareness of our weakness becomes begging. Begging is the last possibility of strength fitted to our destiny, it renders man fitted to destiny. It is normally called prayer.
Luigi Giussani, ‘Event of freedom. Conversations with young university students’, Marietti, Genoa 2002, p. 56