The Readings for the 17th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time.”Genesis 18:32a
I‘VE BEEN READING and listening to a lot of commentaries on the Bible lately. Although everyone agrees that Abraham is interceding for his Nephew, Lot, here (under cover of interceding for the cities) the commentaries seem to disagree on the implications.
Is Abraham being very bold here, interceding for something God intends to destroy? Or is Abraham being chicken, not just interceding for Lot as he should be? Or is Abraham crossing the line, but God is gracious even so, and eventually seems to change his mind?
Carry this forward into later chapters: should Abraham, who was so brave here, have also spoken up about the requested sacrifice of Isaac? Or, did Abraham, who was out of line here, learn a lesson and not say anything about Isaac?
Did God intend to actually kill all of the People of Israel in the desert and yet – because Moses interceded – change his mind? Or did God intend for Moses to offer his own life as intercession for Israel?
This side of Glory we won’t know the answers to any of these questions, but they make for interesting meditation. Pray. And, if you wonder how we are to pray – boldly or not at all? The answer is very clear in the Gospel: by asking Jesus how to pray.
In the Epistles St Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit gives us words for prayer even moans and groans, strange tongues, sighs. Letting God intercede through us is a far better choice than praying on our own anyway. Letting the priestly ministry of Jesus flow through us as members of his body, he intercedes before the Father for whatever is needed. If we let him, he will intercede through us.
When we offer prayers “With intentions” what are we doing? Are we “pestering God” in order to “get our way” or, perhaps, is God pestering us to intercede out of growing to love those for whom we’re praying? Is prayer a way to “change God’s mind” or is it a way to participate in the Mind of God?
The on-going converstaion with God is the important part: not that you hold this or that in prayer as such, but that you’re open to God praying in and with you. The relationship is the prayer.
Lord, teach us to pray.