Jesus said, "I give you my assurance. Whatever you ask the
Father, he will give you in my name."
My friends, today is not only the Fifth Sunday after Easter, but it
is also Rogation Sunday. The name "rogation" means simply "prayer of petition",
when we ask God our Father for the needs of the upcoming planting and harvesting
season. It stems from a time when most of society was very much rural.
Of course, in our current urban environment, it has lost much of its meaning.
Unless you and I are concerned about aphids, nematodes, and various other
kinds of afflictions that can happen to our plants, we probably really
don't understand the vagaries of growing vast amounts of food as the farmers
would who are so dependent upon the weather and other things to make a
harvest that will feed not only ourselves but most of the world.
It is a good time, however, on this Rogation Sunday, to consider prayer:
what prayer is, what it is not, and how we can better pray. It is of our
very nature as Christian people to be people of prayer. Prayer is, first
and foremost, an attitude. It isn't running on and on with a lot of words.
It is an attitude of faith and an attitude of hope.
Jesus said one time that if you have the faith the size of a mustard
seed, you could move mountains. Faith means that you and I know for certain,
as Jesus has taught us, that our heavenly Father love us. He loves us to
the point that he would want to spoil his children rotten! He does that,
you know. He really spoils us. That is the kind of faith that we are to
The hope is not a hope against reality, but a hope that is founded in
truth. We can believe what Jesus said and know that it is true. "Whatever
you ask the Father, he will give it to you in my name."
If prayer is first of all an attitude, it is, secondly, something even
much more. We usually consider prayer in four different categories. First,
prayer of adoration. Second, prayer of thanksgiving. Third, prayer to seek
forgiveness for our sins. And fourth, prayer of petition.
So often, when we think of prayer, we think of it only as prayer of
petition. We pray and pray and pray because we have to ask God for the
things that we need. And that is all right. But the most selfless kind
of prayer that we can offer to God is prayer of adoration. Prayer of adoration
really means to be aware of being in the presence of our God at every moment
of our lives. Sometimes there is, in that prayer of adoration, a charism,
a gift that is given to us, and that gift is the gift of contemplation.
Contemplative prayer is to be able to glimpse, maybe only for a fleeting
time, the reality and the wonder and the mystery of God. Contemplative
prayer is the kind of prayer that you and I should aspire to.
We also pray to say thank you to our God for all of the gifts and benefits
that he has given us. We must be a grateful people for all that God has
given us. We also seek forgiveness for our sins. We ask God in prayer to
forgive us. Finally, we ask for the things that we need. These are prayers
of petition. This is what Rogation Sunday is about.
Prayer is not only the words that you and I say. Prayer is conversation.
And if it is conversation, it means very simply that it is a two-way street.
We talk to God and God talks to us as well. By his inspiration he can move
our hearts and lives. He can change us. He can give us his word, if we
listen. It is very hard for us sometimes to listen to God, to just be in
his presence, keep quiet, and listen. He will speak to us. He will talk
Prayer of petition is prayer that we are most familiar with. In fact,
this defines prayer for a lot of people. Whenever they think of praying,
they think of asking. Jesus told us to ask and we shall receive. And we
believe that. Whatever we ask for in Jesus' name, the Father would give
it to us. Now Jesus also tells us something else. "The Father already loves
you because you have loved me and have believed that I came forth from
God. On that day you will ask in my name and I do not say that I will petition
the Father for you." The Father already knows because you are a follower
of Jesus. The Father already loves you. It is good that we have such a
powerful mediator in the person of Jesus Christ seated at the right hand
of the Father who has the Father's ear on our behalf. But Jesus is saying,
"You can ask the Father for what you need in your own right. The Father
loves you so much." What an idea that is! What a wonderful, beautiful idea
that the Father loves us so much!
When we ask for so many things - and God expects us to-it seems as though,
not always are our prayers answered. It is a common saying that God always
answers our prayers but sometimes the answer is "no". We could ask our
Father for everything that we need and the Father who is so loving and
so provident will always respond to that prayer but maybe not in the way
that we think it should be answered. After all, when we ask for things
we have a tendency to limit God and limit his providence. We want him to
do the things that we ask for, but God, who sees a bigger picture, will
give to us something even greater than we can ask for.
You and I are asked to beseech our God for everything that we need.
"Give us this day our daily bread", we pray so frequently. Yet even before
we have said that, we have acknowledged God, who is in heaven, that his
name be hallowed, that his kingdom come, and that his will be done. All
of these are segments of that prayer of petition that Jesus has so beautifully
taught us: the Our Father.
When we come together for Eucharist, we come together for prayer. In
this Eucharist, we see all of the aspects of prayer. Prayer of adoration
- we adore our All-holy God. We say thank you to our God for all that we
have and all that we are; most of all for having given to us his only begotten
Son as our Redeemer. We seek the forgiveness of our sins in this Eucharistic
prayer as well. We acknowledge that we are sinners and we ask our God to
forgive us. Finally, we ask him that we may continue to be sustained by
his providence. Listen carefully to the words of the Eucharistic Prayer.
Understand that our Father not only hears us, but responds so lovingly
to his children.
Please note: These sermons are offered for your meditation.
If you wish to use them for some other purpose or republish them, please
credit St. Dunstanís Church and Fr. Sisterman.