My Dear Friends! If we are surprised when Jesus asks us to pray continually it means that we have separated prayer from life. It means that when we put a prayer book aside, or when we put the rosary into our pocket, or when we step outside the church, we shut God out.
Jesus is an example of someone who prayed continually. Does it mean that he was always on his knees? Well, he did a lot of walking but he walked where his heavenly Father wanted him to walk. He did a lot of talking but he spoke what his Father wanted him to speak. He even dined with sinners but he was not celebrating their sins or participating in their sins. He loved them to conversion. Jesus showed us an example of integrity which doesn’t separate prayer from life. If prayer is separated from life, if who we are at prayer differs from who we are at home, at school, at work, on holidays etc. we end up doing both: prayer and life, badly.
It would be useful now to ask yourself: What do I pray for? We all know this part of Our Father: “Thy will be done” don’t we? However if we assessed our prayers how often they can be actually summed up as: “Thy will be changed.” Superficially the parable of the poor widow seems to support such an idea: Don’t stop praying and you will make God give you want you want. The Church in her 2000 year-journey has realised this struggle we face, that’s why the opening prayer for this Mass was: “Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours.” Charles Péguy, a French writer once confessed: “For 18 months I wasn’t able to pray Our Father because I couldn’t accept his will.” Isn’t an honest confession? However it is also a confession of a person having a desire to accept the will of God.
My Dear Friends! If in your conscience you discern that your prayer is more like saying to God: “Thy will be changed” but at the same time, deep down, you realise that it is not the way to proceed, I would like to direct you to Our Blessed Mother. Charles Péguy said: “For 18 months I wasn’t able to pray Our Father because I couldn’t accept his will. That’s why I prayed to Mary.” Why? Because Mary didn’t separate prayer from life, that’s why she did both beautifully. Her prayer was beautiful and her life was beautiful. Mary will support us “not to lose heart” when the world around us preaches that surrendering to God’s will is waste of one’s life. It is not a waste of life like it wasn’t waste of life when that married man refused going to nightclubs or when he spent his free time on the phone to his wife and shopping for his children. On the contrary he was witnessing to the happiness of having those people in his life. Don’t be like the wife of Lot who though running away from the sinful city of Sodom at the same time thought that she was going to miss something of the “thrill’ which the people of the place indulged themselves in. She turned back and then she turned into a block of salt. Sometimes we may feel like that too. We say that sin is bad but we also envy some of the “thrill” of those who indulge themselves in immoral behaviour.
Surrendering to the will of God means that I have discovered Christ’s love, mercy and grace offered to me. It means that I have come to love the One who loved me first. My life is not a miserable one; on the contrary it is a happy one because I have God in my life.