Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 5-25) in which the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, is foretold.
Fr Paul continues to read from the ‘Heart of the Disciple’* resource for our daily reflections which asks us to consider the following:
God has but one desire for us all; that we live in and with God for eternity. In many ways, this is the primary thing on his mind: how to lead us to the point where we freely place our trust in him, while leaving us free to reject him if we so choose. For our personal freedom is one thing God will never seek to undermine.
It can be surprising to learn that leading us to himself is God’s primary goal. Just listen to the prayers that we make. Our prayers often reveal that we relate to God as if fulfilling our ever-changing desires should be the main thing on God’s mind.
It can be disappointing if we don’t get from God what we have been asking for. Much like a toddler who is denied the extra ice-cream, we can feel upset when our prayers are not answered as we would like them to be within the timeframe that we have decided upon. The child needs to grow up before it can gain the perspective of an adult.
If we pray with faith, God will answer our prayers, but he will answer them by integrating them into his plan for each of us. For example, Zechariah’s prayers are for a son. Elizabeth in her old age has taken her barrenness very hard and it’s not easy for them to live in the humiliation of being childless that was part of the culture of the time. God hears their prayer and blesses them with a son, John the Baptist, who in turn brings blessing upon all of Israel and all of the world. Their prayer is answered, but to the benefit of all and not just for themselves. We see God’s primary goal in action.
God answers our prayers by bringing them into his universal mission. He teaches us that he loves us by answering our prayers, but also by lifting us up and giving us his perspective “to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light” (GE, 171). He wants to raise us up to become spiritual adults, able to see that the salvation of all is truly the most important thing.
For our reflection and discussion, Fr Paul invites us to consider, the beginning of true prayer comes when I realise I only want what God wants. It seems so simple to say, but this is probably the single most difficult thing to come to in our relationship with God. It is the prayer of Mary, ‘let it be with me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38) and the prayer of Jesus, ‘not my will but yours’ (Luke 22:42). It changes everything and opens each of us up to a life we can scarcely imagine.
And together we pray:
I pray for all those who need your help, and I pray for my own needs.
But in all this, I pray my heart to be open to your will and the depth of faith and trust needed
to place my hands in yours. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Excerpt from ‘Heart of a Disciple’ produced by Evangelisation Brisbane, https://evangelisationbrisbane.org.au/adventplus/