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THE VALUE OF UNSELFISH PRAYER

Father Francis's picture
Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Kings 3:4-13 & Mk. 6:30-34

The prayer of Solomon pleased God because it was an unselfish prayer. The gift he asked for, although for himself, was to benefit others. He was a young king who wanted to govern his people well, so he asked for the ability to judge wisely and fairly.

We can learn something from the unselfishness of Solomon's prayer. We do pray for others, that they will be healed, that husbands and wives will solve their differences, that teenagers will be protected from drugs, that our young people will find work. These are prayers that concern our own families and friends.

But we also pray for solutions to problems on a worldwide scale, for peace in war-torn countries, for immigrants to find a home, for the victims of famines or disasters. It is good that we should ask God to help all these people, but can we pray like Solomon, asking God to show us how to help others? This is the difficult part because it involves the giving of self.

If we have an elderly and lonely neighbour it is easy to pray, 'Lord, look after Mrs. X.' The more difficult prayer for us is, 'Lord, show me what I can do to make life a little easier for this lady.' A parent's fervent prayer will be, 'Lord, don't let my son start taking drugs.' But it will be more difficult to pray, 'Lord help me to guide my son and give him good advice.' When it comes to asking for world peace or help for immigrants, can we pray, 'Lord, help me to find a home for them or Lord, show me how to be generous in donating funds for those who are suffering'?

It is obvious that if we could follow Solomon's way of praying, our prayers would not only benefit ourselves but also benefit others.

On returning from a missionary journey, Jesus said to His Apostles, “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” He was eager for them to enjoy physical rest, but also the opportunity to recharge their spiritual batteries. He was concerned that amid the demands of ministry they might lose a sense of union with Him. He wanted them to spend time alone with Him.

In a busy and distracting life we, too, need time alone with Jesus. At Mass we offer, through Him, our sacrifice of praise to God. But the Mass is a community prayer and cannot cater for the tastes and needs of every individual. For a full life of prayer we require both public liturgy and private moments, each in its own place. However often we come to Mass we have to make room in our daily lives for personal prayer. This calls for the sacrifice of some of our time but it is surely worth looking for that solitary place, where we can be alone with Jesus, in an otherwise busy schedule?

Lord Jesus, You are the most important person in our lives. May this belief be reflected in the amount of time we spend alone with You each day.

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