The 29th Sunday of the Year

Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14 – 4:2; Lk 18:1-8 (year c)

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.” Prayer is both a private and shared activity. It is shared most obviously in the celebration of the Eucharist, when the community, gathered in the name of the Lord, becomes his living Body. In the sacrifice of the Mass, through the Holy Spirit, our own prayer becomes one with that of the Lord, whose Body and Blood we share. Precisely because the Eucharist is rooted in Christ’s living presence rather than our own frailty, it is the foundation of all prayer, whether private or shared.

Most of us struggle with private prayer from time to time. We struggle to find time in the many distractions of daily life and are easily discouraged when the focus of our prayer seems to go unheard.

The Scriptures this Sunday are not a handbook on prayer, but they provide a few indications that might be helpful. The Book of Exodus presents us with the prayer of Moses, when the fleeing tribes of Israel faced extinction from the Amalekite armies. Moses raised his arms in prayer as the battle was joined. So long as his arms remained raised in prayer, the tribes of Israel were able to fight off the attack. When his arms fell, the enemy prevailed. When Moses grew tired, he was seated on a stone and helpers were summoned to support his weary arms.

It is a simple story, but it surely demonstrates that prayer, if it is to persist, must be supported by a structure. Moses was supported by the rock on which he sat. If we are to pray regularly, a defined routine suited to our way of life must become the rock on which we build our prayer.

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