Asking for help isn’t always easy.
How many times have people said to us, if you need anything just ask, I’m just a phone call away, call round and we can talk, how many times have we just nodded in acknowledgment but not really taken it seriously?
I know I have done this myself, and I’ve sat at home thinking should I take up that offer of help or will I be intruding and making myself vulnerable in the process.
Recently my personal situation has made me realise that asking for help and actually being able to accept it has been difficult, but in doing so I have experienced such amazing Grace from wonderful friends and colleagues.
There is a fear in asking, it means stepping into that moment where we ask, and wait for a no, like the man who needs to borrow those three loaves waits for a no, and he gets one, but he is persistent, and that is the glory of the beautiful Grace of God.
In the Gospel today we hear Jesus telling us to be persistent, persistent in asking Him for help, asking the Father for His love, and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.
But it’s hard to persist, whether it’s the culture today or how we’ve been brought up, we’ve been taught not to nag, not to burden others, not to ask. But here Jesus cuts through all that social etiquette, he acknowledges that the man who wants to borrow the three loaves will receive them not because of friendship alone but because he is persistent.
This parable is so relatable, I can imagine myself saying the same things if a friend came to my door and I was in my nightie, the kids were in bed, and I’d locked up the house. But I’d help because I would know it must be urgent for such a disruption.
The disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, he gives them the words to use but shows them to be persistent, to not give up, Jesus says “at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.” And here we glimpse the key to personal prayer, to not give up, to be persistent in our prayers but in our prayer life too.
This parable prophetically speaks into our attitude towards prayer, Jesus knows that we are fallen and fragile, even his own disciples fall into the temptation of sleep because they are overwhelmed with grief whilst Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, he calls them to wake up and pray, a message for us all for prayerful persistence when faced with personal suffering, grief, and the enormity of the evil that goes on in the world.
There is a stark reality of Jesus’ command to us to stay persistent to prayer in our daily lives, even when we are tucked up in bed and then realise we’ve not said compline, or reflected on our sins, or given thanks for the day.
Do we roll over in bed thinking we can catch up tomorrow or do we feel the need to be persistent in our prayer life.
Jesus says, commands us to Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. It’s certainly worth getting up out of bed to finish the day in prayer, to be persistent and to modal a holy persistence where our relationship with our Lord matches His persistence to keep forgiving and redeeming us daily.
We can see this pattern of Holy persistence present In the genesis reading, where we hear Abraham being persistent also with God, asking Him questions regarding God’s decision towards Sodom, Abraham asks and asks and asks, to point of where if this was a human conversation between you and I, I’m sure you would have said enough! Shut up! But not our God, he listens with patience that is immeasurable, responds in ways we couldn’t fathom, shines His grace on us unconditionally.
There is something here in this teaching that calls us to put away our pride and feelings of shame when we ask for help. Gods love blows through the boundaries set up by pride and shame, He shows us how to love like Him, freely, simply, letting our hearts be formed by His Sacred heart. My favourite model of beautiful simple love is where on the cross Jesus gives His blessed mother Mary and John to each other, as Mother and Son, united in pure holy love, breaking through the boundaries of human ideals and expectations. This is what Jesus calls us to do as we ask, to break through our rigid humanity to sit with Him regardless of what we think we should be doing.
Sometimes It is hard to do to open our hearts fully in prayer but Jesus addresses this and gives us words to help us persist, because sometimes when we pray we don’t have the words, we cannot format a sentence that articulate what we actually need.
This is where prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Jesus prayer hold us is prayerful holy persistence. The safety blanket of repetitive words that hold us close to the Lord, that allow our hearts to communicate, the inner groans of need that cry from within, that our humanity fights to hold inside to preserve ourselves.
My prayer for you all this week is to be persistent, hold this teaching of Holy Persistence turning to the Lord again and again and again, to challenge ourselves to pray even when we feel that we would rather be doing some other task.
Let us be patient in times of trouble and never cease praying, giving thanks to our Lord with our whole heart, ask and it will be given to you, for the Lord has overridden the law and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay, he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross, be persistent in the never ending, beautiful, merciful, unconditional love of our Lord, because he is persistent with us.