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Keep praying

A POOR, elderly woman named Gloria often could be heard praying aloud by a godless, professed atheist man in the next apartment.

Gloria had no money to buy her food supply. After she had eaten the last slice of bread, she knelt down again and prayed in a loud voice, “Oh Lord, please let there be food for tomorrow, even if it’s just a loaf of bread.”

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Hearing her prayer through the thin wall, the man in the next apartment decided to mock her faith.

He took a loaf of bread, laid it at her door and hurried back to his apartment. From his room, he heard Gloria’s prayer of thanksgiving: “Oh Lord, I thank you that you didn’t fail me.”

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With a triumphant grin on his face, he went back to Gloria’s door and said to her, “You silly woman. You think God answered your prayers? I am the one who brought you the loaf of bread.”

Gloria replied, “Praise the Lord! He always helps me in my need…even if he has to send the Devil to answer my prayers.”

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Gloria’s persistent spirit is what the Lord in this 29th Sunday’s gospel teaches in regard to praying.

Jesus’ parable may well apply to our faith-relationship with God which suggests that sometimes our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears.

But the Lord says, “Don’t get discouraged; keep praying.”

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If a corrupt and godless judge gives in to the widow who keeps pestering him to render a just decision for her, Jesus says in the parable, how much more a good and loving God! (Note that there were corrupt judges already during Christ’s time).

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A friend of mine, Atty. Braulio Tansinsin, once related to me that their father inherited the sickly constitution of their grandfather. His doctors warned him that when he reached 50, the children had better prepare for his demise.

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“Father and mother prayed to the Holy Trinity, the Holy Family, the Perpetual Help and even attended an extra Mass. I know this because I accompanied them,” he said.

“Tatay (father) died at the age of 82 and outlived most of his doctors except the last who was very young then!”

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This is just one of the many testimonies about persevering prayer. Remember the inspiring example of St. Monica, mother of the once worldly Augustine? Deeply worried, she prayed without let-up for 20 years. Augustine didn’t only reform himself. He went on to become a priest, a bishop, and one of the Church’s greatest saints.

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One last thing: In praying, let’s not forget the other side of prayer: OUR SIDE.

One reason why we don’t succeed in prayer or why we don’t get what we ask for is because we don’t work enough to attain it.

For instance, we pray for peace but we persist in taking revenge. In short, we don’t want to forgive.

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Or, we pray for good health, but we love to eat and eat “see-food”, that is, “whenever I see food, I eat!”

The message of Jesus in today’s gospel is very encouraging. “If you, evil as you are, can be generous with your fellowmen, how much more with God.”

So…keep praying. Don’t give up. (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)