Jesus and Luke tell us in the reading today that God is personal; that we are part of God’s family; and that God wants a relationship with us.
When we pray we are to acknowledge that God is a parent to us- a parent who looks out for us and wants to hear from us. It is interesting that Jesus gives us a short list of what to pray for daily: that the Kingdom of God comes; that we have enough to eat acknowledging our dependence on God; that we are forgiven as we forgive others; and that we not be put to the test like Peter and Judas.
We are then to pray for our current needs. Jesus tells us that God has our best interest at heart even when the world is not the way we want it to be. So even when Jesus asks for the cup to be taken away (Lk. 22:42) Jesus has enough confidence that God will find a way for him.
After his initial suggestion for prayer, he tells us to ask, seek, and knock. For is if we do these things with a sincere heart we will receive, find, and the doors of the Kingdom will be open to us.
In my own journey of faith the most important part to me is seeking. Seeking and finding the Kingdom of God is awe inspiring and elusive. My search began with knocking. After college, I sought a direction that was unconventional and unique. I did three things as I sought out this direction. First and throughout, I prayed for the direction and the opportunity even though I did not know what it would entail. Second, I went to priests and elders for advice which did not always satisfy me. Third, when I saw an opportunity I tested to see if it was for real.
Like Abraham in our Genesis reading I bargained with God in my prayer. I bargained in a way that I could understand the answer. I bargained that if God did certain things, then I would respond to it. The responses opened doors that I then walked through. I experienced God in interesting ways.
For example, I had felt called to the priesthood in a Missionary Society. When I was discerning whether to remain in the Society or take the bold step of beginning the ministry that I do now many thought the wiser step was to remain where I was, yet the spirit seemed to be saying it was time to move on. I was embarking on an endeavor with no income or transportation. As I took the step, I was offered a part-time job, without applying for it, as a hospital chaplain and friend of mine offered a car he needed to get rid of at a very good price. Like Lk. 22:35, while I was never rich, I have never been in need either. Twenty-six years later I am still going strong, but dependent on God.
The key is to open our hearts to the movement of God by recognizing God’s spirit in our prayer and responding to it. This is hard to do because opening our hearts like Jesus did seems to cost too much. Yet it makes all the difference.