“What do you wish me to do for you?” Whether we realize it, this is a question God is always asking. It’s an important question because the answer we provide will reveal a great deal about where our hearts lie. Our requests of God can often appear very noble and altruistic. They consist of requests for healing for someone in need of prayers, successful resolution of a personal conflict, assistance in overcoming a disease and myriad other desires for both ourselves and others. We are especially concerned about those we love and can easily find ourselves bringing their struggles to God for a hearing in our prayer.
Is that really all that prayer is about? The woman in today’s Gospel, having been put in her place by Jesus, was only looking out for the wellbeing of her sons. She was doing what mothers do, protecting and securing the livelihood of her children. But she was sadly mistaken, her request was not granted. We all make this same misguided mistake from time to time. The goal of prayer is not to convince God of the worthiness of our agenda or to gain a hearing. Sometimes we believe that the more we multiply our prayers or discover the right combination of supplications that we will receive more of God’s attention. That’s not how it works. Even though God desires to hear, know, and be an intimate part of what is on our minds, it goes much deeper.
What we need from God is a relationship. It’s a relationship that guides and immerses us in the very stuff of life and in the direction of the Gospel. This relationship sees God’s kingdom and agenda, not our own, as what is most important. It builds the strength of character necessary to bring God’s Gospel into a world that may not receive it with open arms. It may cause us discomfort and suffering. We are asked to heroically journey with God through suffering, hardship, ridicule, and even death! Ultimately, our desire from God must become our desire for God. It is only when this happens that the powerful words “thy will be done” will be found with sincerity and humility on our lips. Whatever God wishes becomes what we wish as we see this glorious union of wills. Our humble lives will then become powerful witnesses, and what happens to us in God’s eternal kingdom the result of his mercy. We become true servants and find ourselves discovering God’s definition of success. That definition has nothing at all to do with status, income, or privilege.
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