A good moment in the New Testament to keep in mind, is one where Jesus basically says, if two or three are gathered in His name-whatever they ask for will be given to them. I love that passage because it offers so much confidence for all our prayer lives. But then, it can lower our confidence too, when we do just that and, in our perception, we do not get our prayers answered. What can we do then? We could fall back on that older teaching that says if God doesn’t give us what we ask for in prayer, He will give something better. I was brought up with that teaching myself. Of course, I was also brought up to believe that when we pray, it should always be done with His Will in mind. Christ prays that way just before He is arrested and begins His Passion. Remember? It went along the lines of, “Father – if this cup could be removed from me. But not my Will, but your Will be done.” These additional teachings can console and comfort any of us. Still, some people need more. They end up praying less and less, as they wonder why God just is not answering their prayer. Something else seemingly is needed to really enhance our perspective here.
And I have it! What is needed can be found just before the passage mentioned above. Specifically, just before Christs statement that two or three believing people praying together will have their prayers answered, He offers teaching on forgiving people – which also includes receiving forgiveness. It must be that way, i.e., receiving forgiveness ourselves, because Christ says that we should love others as we love ourselves. I find it fascinating that these two teachings are given so close to each other. I can only conclude that they are best understood
if applied in the order given. In other words, if I want any prayer answered, my first step is to forgive anyone who has offended me. I should also ask for forgiveness from anyone I have offended. Now, I get together with one or two other people, at least, who have gone through a similar process of forgiving others and asking for forgiveness. NOW we three who have gone through this process get together for prayer. All that is left is for us to observe how powerful our prayer becomes. The Scriptures indicate that a qualitatively difference will be present, and on multiple levels.
Consider the results of such prayer. I will certainly have a more powerful experience of God. My experience of God will be so powerful, in fact, that all I want is for God’s Will to be done. At this point I won’t even be bothered by what appears to be unanswered prayer, as I would be before I allowed forgiveness in my life as Jesus teaches. I am so immersed in forgiveness,
remember, that I am now really into God’s Will being done anyway. Forgiveness allows my consciousness to really expand. My awareness is so much greater. The last benefit is that my original prayer intention may well be answered as presented. The prayers of my prayer partners included!!!
The enrichment of my attitudinal stance before God is what matters here. And the reason why it becomes so enhanced is simply because of our willingness to follow the teachings of the Lord – and immerse ourselves in forgiveness.
Peace, Fr. Walter