|Sunrise Mass on our property during a campout.|
In today's Gospel Jesus says, "...what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?" What man indeed? We know, or at least we think we know, how to give good gifts to our children. When it comes to the basic needs, we know what good gifts to give. However, our children do not always want those good things we have to offer. They often want the stone instead of bread or the serpent instead of a fish. You and I are no different when it comes to our Heavenly Father.
I cannot count the number of times I have prayed for something that really wasn't what was good for me. I can't count the number of times that I was handed something good by the hand of God but called it evil since it wasn't what I prayed for. Only through grace and spiritual growth am I able to look back and see that God's response was a loving one.
So, what then should I be asking God to give me? What is a safe prayer? How can I pray each day and never have to wonder if I am asking for a stone, scorpion, or serpent?
As I've mentioned before, many times we do not see something in Scripture until it's time, until we are ready. Often we read and reread the same passage, maybe hundreds of times, before something really jumps out. Today was one of those days. I even said aloud, "wow, I never noticed that before."
"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
Did you see it? Did it register? I can almost see Jesus saying this to me with an elbow nudge and a wink. It's like a secret code between old friends. It's like an inside joke but it's no joke. He pulls me and you aside and says, "pssst, want to know what to ask my Father for? Want to know what He'll never say "no" to? Move in closer." Jesus looks around to make sure no one else is overhearing and then says, "ask for the Holy Spirit."
Duh! or in the words of Homer (Simpson) Doooh! Yes, this is
"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask [for] him?" Jesus is telling me and you
Let us start today to make "Come, Holy Spirit" a prayer we pray often because, "...how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
Here are some awesome books to assist you with the prayer, Come, Holy Spirit!
When the Spirit Comes in Power by Peter Herbeck. This short but powerful book will open your heart and mind to the true power of
Sober Intoxication of the Spirit: Filled with the Fullness of God. Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., examines the events of Pentecost and how the people around the Apostles thought them to be drunk. He goes on to teach us how those first followers experienced Christ and what Pentecost means for us today.
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How to get better at prayer.
- Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
- Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go. Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
- Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days. Mark off the days on your calendar. If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
- Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him. I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development. God is the same way. Spend time praying as best you can. Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation. Don't forget to listen
- Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life. It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
- Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer Primer, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Time for God, The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.