When last have you dedicated a time to prayer? When last have you awakened in the morning and just thanked God because ‘Wow, I’m alive and we have another day given to us?’.
Archbishop Jason Gordon posed these questions to faithful gathered for Holy Mass at the Living Water Community Chapel, Sunday, October 16.
In delivering his homily, he recalled there was a time when families gathered to pray daily. “Is that happening still?” he questioned.
Prayer, the Archbishop emphasised is to the Christian as water is to fish.
“Take fish out of water, it can’t live, it can’t survive. You take prayer out of the Christian and the eternal life can’t survive,” Archbishop Gordon said.
He commented that the greatest enlightenment of a Christian is when one comes against that immoveable brick wall, which either comes from an internal defect or an external experience.
“…then you understand that you are not God. Then you start to understand that you are not the beginning and the end. Then you start understanding that you need a saviour. And I have good news for you, His name is Jesus Christ,” the Archbishop said.
He opined faithful are living as Christian secularists in that some don’t really understand the role of prayer in the community and in the family.
“And I’m asking today that we consider again, look again at how we pray. I know that we have some prayer warriors here that have God busy….And they carry the rest of us. They make it possible for us to do what we do. But that’s not fair to put the burden of the engine of transformation onto the few who have taken it,” Archbishop Gordon said.
Prayer warriors needed
Every family needs a prayer warrior. “Every family needs a person who reminds the family that the prayer of the innocent, the prayer of the voiceless, the prayer of the widow is always heard before God,” the Archbishop said.
He described his grandmother as a prayer warrior, who, when praying, he felt sorry for God. On the other hand, he warned, “we should lighten their load [referring to prayer warriors] and each one of us should have a rhythm of prayer that is just part and parcel of what we do and how we live and how we operate in our life.”
Referring to the First Reading, Exodus 17:8–13 (The Amalekites Defeated) and the Gospel Reading of Luke 18:1–8 (The Parable of the Persistent Widow), the Archbishop underscored both texts echo the persistence of prayer.
“And another Church Father says you have …to see it as the ultimate battle that was fought and the One who held his hands up was not Moses whose hands were propped, but it was Jesus Himself.”
The Archbishop said the text underscored that intercessory prayer of the Church has to be seen through the intercessory prayer of Jesus because it is on the cross with His hands outstretched that He forgives and intercedes “for those of his generation who have done Him wrong”.
Prayer fosters gratitude
Archbishop Gordon shared if he were asked what the single greatest need in the Church is right now, would be to teach all how to pray, and to pray in a way that becomes part and parcel of one’s life.
According to the Archbishop, when we pray, God can achieve many things. “Because as we are praying, we are disposing our heart, our will, our understanding and our intellect to God which means that God could use us for the achievement of His kingdom.”
When we are not praying, we give God a “hard time” because there are no raw materials with which to start. “It’s like baking a cake with no flour, egg, butter, sugar….all you could do is mix. Let we give God something to start with, nah….”
The fruit of prayer is gratitude. “The first experience of prayer is contrition. That’s when we come to prayer, and we encounter Christ. The first thing we experience is how sinful we are and how silly we have been. But the next thing that happens is gratitude. And that gratitude is really what transforms a person from inside out,” the Archbishop said.
He then invited faithful to ask themselves: ‘Am I a person of gratitude or am I a person of negativity?’
Archbishop Gordon has requested that five minutes of meditation be practised in every Catholic school in the morning and examen of conscience in the evening for seven minutes.
He believed if children are given a rhythm of prayer where they encounter God and reflect on their actions on the day and build up their conscience, then we will have a different nation and the nation’s children will be “different”