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Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14

After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peer and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angle said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” the angel answered, “and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.” “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, “Let what you have said be done to me.” And the angel left her.

Do you believe in the power of prayer? Many of us don’t because many of us don’t pray. Sure we heard of how some people’s illnesses were cured through prayer; we heard about how some family members got converted and baptized through prayer; we heard of how some disasters were averted through prayer; but none of that has ever happened to us… right? Besides how do prayers even work? We never see the fruits of our prayer, so why should we pray?

But that’s a good question: how do prayers work? I don’t know. But neither do I know how my computer works, how this reflection I’m typing out goes from my computer to your computer, how a DVD player reads a DVD, how my handphone works, but I do know that they work.

What I do know is that the difference between how prayers work and how the other instruments work is quite large, because the other instruments work through only the material world; prayers come under the realm of the spiritual world as well as the material world.

Prayers are more than just petitions to God. They are more than a form of communication between us and God. There is one very important purpose of prayer in our lives: prayer helps us to be aware of our dependence on God.

Have you ever noticed that it is when we are most desperate, most helpless, most hopeless, that we pray most fervently? Why do you think this is so? This is because we have come to realize that without God, we are nothing. So we pray, knowing that God alone can deliver us from this mess, this crisis that we’re in.

When we don’t pray, we are effectively saying to God: I don’t need you; I can take care of this on my own. And God says, fine, I will respect your decision, but do know that you can always come to me whenever you need help. And there will be times that we do need help, and cannot find it anywhere else. Then we once again resort to fervent prayer, and seek God’s help.

Sometimes God answers our prayers, sometimes he doesn’t. But as mentioned above, prayer is more than just a petition. It is about realizing that we are totally dependent on God. Once we realize that, it doesn’t matter whether our prayers are answered or not, because we have placed ourselves at the feet of God and said to him, “Lord, let it be done to me according to your will.”

That is truly fervent prayer. A person who has prayed truly fervently is not disappointed when his prayers are not answered, because he knows that they have been heard, and that God is carrying out his will. On the other hand, God may choose to answer our prayers, since the purpose of the prayer - to make us realize our dependence on him - has been fulfilled.

We don’t know whether our prayers will be answered or not, but we do know that our prayers are heard by God. And we place ourselves at the will and mercy of God, trusting that whatever happens from here on is according to God’s will.

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