Today’s first and third readings give the impression that God can be manipulated, that if we yell at Him long enough eventually He’ll give in. We can’t talk God into things. Prayer is not to change the mind of God. It’s to change our mind.
Perhaps today’s readings are telling us that what we say, feel and think is heard by God. There is a dialogue going on. The important thing from our side is to stay in the dialogue, to believe that what we say, feel and think matters to God. Do we really believe this? Prayer matters when we know we are in a dialogue, that we are being heard by a sympathetic, empathetic ear on ‘the other side’. When we wholeheartedly enter into that dialogue, we change. And the very thing we first of all prayed for is re-assembled, re-directed and if we persist in prayer our intention, motivation and understanding changes. We reframe the question and little by little we learn to trust that God who is infinitely good, infinitely loving, infinitely merciful is hearing our prayer, holding it in an infinitely loving way. With our finite minds we cannot understand so he has to lead us to the trust we read about in the final sentence of the gospel. Do we want to be one of those people who little by little are edged into a bigger frame, a bigger picture, a more in-depth understanding of what we are praying for.
What is clear in today’s gospel is that the people who pray well are those who keep praying, those who keep the channels open. When we keep the lines open, we will grow in awareness of God’s Spirit within us filling us with the energies of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, trust, faithfulness, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, understanding and the deep healings that we all need. Prayer does not change God. Prayer changes us. This will always happen if we rest calmly in this utterly safe Presence, allowing the Divine Gaze to invade and heal our unconscious, the place where 95 percent of our motivations and reactions come from. All we can really do is return the gaze.
Richard Rohr: Homilies. Adapted