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Scripture reflection: ‘Pray continually’

10 October 2019

Lectionary readings
First reading:
Exodus 17:8-13
Psalm: 120(121)
Second reading: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

Link to readings

The qualities required for faithful prayer and the inner disposition that we need to pray run throughout our readings this Sunday.

The First Reading gives us the image of Moses, arms upheld by Aaron and Hur, as he prays all day that Israel might win the battle against Amalek.

This perseverance in prayer, in the form of faithfulness to the scriptures, is part of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy in the Second Reading. It leads us to find wisdom and salvation in Christ Jesus.

The pilgrim in Psalm 120 (121) puts all his trust in God. God is faithful; he is our guardian and he never sleeps.

This trust and confidence are needed when our God seems to be silent, as shown in the Gospel. Jesus’s parable of the widow and the unjust judge is an encouragement to be unwearied in prayer.

However, we feel this week, let us entrust ourselves in prayer to Christ, who continually intercedes for us.

PSALM 120 (121)

R./ Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains:
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble!
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
Israel’s guard.

The Lord is your guard and your shade:
at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall nor smite you
nor the moon in the night.

The Lord will guard you from evil,
he will guard your soul.

The Lord will guard your going and your coming
both now and for ever.

REFLECTION

I prepare myself for prayer by slowing down, relaxing my body, breathing gently, putting aside worries and concerns for the moment.

I read the psalm slowly a few times. How do I feel? What is my main response to the psalm? This is a pilgrim’s prayer, where the pilgrim places their trust in the Lord who made heaven and earth. In what ways have I felt – or do I feel – God’s protecting presence all around me in the journey of my life?

The psalmist likens God to my unsleeping guardian – protecting me from all evil, day or night. I ponder this image and speak to God of my gratitude, or maybe place myself more consciously into his care. As I finish my prayer, I read the psalm again, and maybe take it with me into the rest of my day.

GOSPEL

Luke 18: 1–8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’, he said, ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, ‘I want justice from you against my enemy!’ For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death”.’

And the Lord said, ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

REFLECTION

As I come to pray, I take time to relax into God’s presence, grateful that I have this time to spend with the Lord.

I become aware of my feelings as I settle to pray. Do I feel relaxed and content, or am I feeling discouraged, saddened or anxious …? Knowing that the Lord accepts me as I am, I accept his invitation to meet him in prayer and not to lose heart.

I carefully read the text, slowly. I ponder the parable. How do I respond to the widow’s situation? She is poor, powerless but persistent. How is this reflected in my life, my prayer, my action for justice for others? I speak to the Lord of this.

I consider Jesus’s spirit of justice, his attitude to the poor and oppressed. I think of others who have inspired – or inspire me now – to respond to injustice, to be persistent when I see no results. Perhaps I ask for such graces and especially not to lose heart.

In response to Jesus’s last question, I may pray for faithfulness for myself, my community and the wider world.

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham

 

 

 

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