Thursday of the First Week of Lent
(Esther C12:14-16; 23-25; Matthew 7:7-12)
Why do people pray? The age-old question is probably made more by unbelievers than by believers. Still, the faithful need to ask themselves if they think that they might change God’s will by their efforts. Is He not changeless? If so, then why bother to seek His helpim??
Prayer is the most urgent of Christian actions. Christians cannot help but pray because it is the Holy Spirit that is prompting them to do so. Their prayers do not change God, but through their prayers God is changing them. First, prayer enables them to see that God has at his disposition myriad ways of improving an undesirable situation beyond what they have considered. Then in prayer they discover how God may want them to address the challenge at hand. Finally and most importantly, prayer aligns them with the only true order of things: not theirs but God’s is to be done. It has been wisely said that God’s posture toward those who pray does not change with their prayer; it always remains one of pure love.
In today’s gospel Jesus urges his disciples to pray for what they need. The first reading pictures the Jewish Queen Esther doing that as she prepares to meet her husband, the king of Persia. Her prayers will lead to the salvation of her people as God unmasks the maliciousness of their persecutor.