Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.
- Luke 18:1
This opening line from the gospel reading assigned for today got my attention, because it was at least the third time in three days when the subject of prayer, and its importance in the life of a Christian, seemed to show up unexpectedly for me. I don’t think about prayer much, to be honest, and so this confluence of prayer references all at once caused me to take notice. The second was from a patient on Monday who, lamenting the state of politics in America right now and how we seem to have made such a mess of things, reflected that the best thing to do at times like these was to “pray on it”. I told her honestly I didn’t have any better ideas! And the first prod towards prayer this week came in the form of a book I bought years ago (never read) but found again this past weekend as Patty and I were reorganizing bookshelves. The book is “Interior Castle” (aka Las Moradas, “The Mansions”, in Spanish), written in 1577 by St. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun known for her somewhat mystical theological writings. Interior Castle is apparently a famous treatise on prayer, a sort of instruction in that art for her junior sisters in the Order, but (upon finally trying it) I found it pretty tough sledding. One part was quite helpful to me, though, and I’ll pass it along.
Teresa notes that God sometimes seems to reward those who do evil, whom no one likely prays for, while ignoring the good works of others, who suffer in spite of many prayers of the faithful. It’s the same age-old problem of how a loving God can allow evil to flourish in the world. There are many good answers I have heard for that problem, none of them very satisfying. But I liked Teresa’s answer a lot: “Do not consider whether those to whom He communicates His favors are bad or good. His Majesty knows all about this, as I have said. Intervention on our part is quite unnecessary. Rather, must we serve His Majesty with humility and simplicity of heart, and praise Him for His works and wonders.”
I like Teresa’s idea of simple, humble praise as perhaps the best form of prayer. I’ll continue to “pray on it”. I hope you do, too.
Musical Reflection The Prayer - Mat and Savanna Shaw
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things,
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
-St. Teresa of Avila