Learning to pray like saints

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 17:14-23

In today’s gospel reading we hear of a desperate father who come to the disciples to receive help for his beloved son. We quickly find out that the disciples were powerless to heal the boy of his epilepsy (more properly translated as lunacy). The Lord shows us that in fact this particular case of epilepsy  is in fact of demonic origin as we see that Our Lord rebuked the demon. This demon came out of the boy immediately and we are told that the boy was cured instantly.

One of the most amazing things we learn from this passage is the power of intercession. To intercede means to plead or make request on behalf of another. We are familiar with this term being connected to the saints. They plead or pray for us to God. We are amazed to note that the boy did not ask to be healed at all. His father begged and pleaded on his sons behalf.

The important lesson for us today is the lesson of the desperate father. This lesson applies to the parents who are worried about their children. This lesson applies for husbands that are worried about their wives as well as vice versa. This lesson applies to someone who is concerned about the path that their friend’s life has taken. This lesson is for children who worry about their parents. This lesson is for every Christian. Intercession works because prayer is a form of love and God multiplies everything that we do in love.

We are a “fix it” generation. It is natural to try and find a human answer to everything that is wrong. The desperate father went to the disciples looking for a divine answer and he was met with a human response. The disciples lacked faith. They hadn’t fasted or prayed enough. So what the father received was basically a human answer. The answer was “It is impossible for us to heal your son.”

But the father was persistent and this is a sign of his commitment, dedication and love for his son. The father’s persistence is also a sign of his faith. He doesn’t accept the human answer although he has no reason not to. He has faith that there is a divine answer. He has faith that Jesus of Nazareth is not like the disciples. He is different. So the father brings his fear, his anxiety, his worry, his desperation and even his little bit of faith and casts them all at the feet of Our Lord. In this moment of extreme desperation our true colors will show. Our faith or lack of faith will show. Our trust in God or trust in ourselves will show. St. James speaks of trials as a way to bring about perseverance and patience. Trials force us into a place of belief or lack of belief. The father acted with faith.

When was the last time we acted this way on behalf of someone else? We regularly spend time praying for ourselves, but when was the last time we showed this act of love for another? When was the last time we focused our every energy on begging and praying for someone else? We sometimes think that praying doesn’t achieve anything, but nothing could be further from the truth. We pray because God expects us to and because prayer changes things. Pure prayer moves the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. We don’t see the Holy Spirit just as we don’t see the wind, but we know that He is working because we see the changes all around us.

If there are problems in our lives, there are sometimes things we can do to solve those problems. When there is no human answer, pray for others. If they are angry with you, pray for them. If they have bad habits, pray for them. If they have character flaws, pray for them. If they are weak and struggling through tough times, reach out to them…and pray for them. They never have to know that you have prayed for them but by doing so, you practice one of the qualities of being a saint. So let’s intercede on behalf of others as we pray that the great saints intercede on our behalf. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.

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