In preparing for this blog post, I was struck by many things in both the first reading and the Gospel – so much so that I could probably write two different blogs for today – but ultimately felt drawn to comment on the Gospel, “the Prayer of Jesus.”
The entire 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, from which today’s Gospel is taken, is an intercessory prayer spoken by Jesus directly to the Father. Although not speaking to the disciples, He is interceding for them and for those disciples still to come (you and me).
When Jesus prays, something big is about to happen. In Matthew 14:23, Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray, and then what follows? He walks on water. In Luke 6:12, He again goes up a mountain again to pray overnight, and, when day breaks, He chooses His 12 apostles. In the same spirit, Jesus offers this prayer in today’s Gospel and then is arrested and on His way to the cross. When Jesus prays, something big is about to happen.
Why don’t we have that same faith, that same confidence, when it comes to our prayer? I’m not talking about saying the Our Father and then, boom, being able to walk on water but, rather, the act of bringing Him our needs and then trusting that something big will happen in our own lives. This trust is three-fold, I believe.
1. We have to trust that God truly cares about us and loves us. The misconception is that if God doesn’t love us or if He is a vengeful and vindictive God who is hurt by the humanity that betrayed Him, then He won’t even listen to our prayers. Accepting the truth of God’s unending love and mercy deep in our own hearts is key to being able to surrender our wishes, desires, and intentions to Him in prayer.
2. We have to trust in the power of our prayer. Our prayer is powerful because our God is powerful. Nothing is ever too big to ask and God never ignores the smallest of our requests either. All we have to do is bring our needs before Him and He will take care of the rest.
3. We have to trust that our prayers will be heard and answered. What is the point of praying if we believe either that God doesn’t hear us or that He won’t answer our prayers? Or maybe we are afraid of God’s answer not being the answer that we want? In that case…
4. (Bonus one) We have to trust that God’s plan is better than our own, that He will always work for our good. God will answer our prayers in His way. Sometimes His way lines up with our way but that is not often the case. There is always good in His answer because He loves us and desires our good.
Looking at this “Prayer of Jesus,” Jesus knows and trusts His Father’s love, trusts in the power of prayer, trusts that the Father heard what He asked and will answer and always, always trusts in the Father’s plan. Here in Jesus, we have a beautiful model for our own prayer. May we continue to trust in the Lord, placing our needs before Him.
Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.