Let us praise illustrious men,
our ancestors in their successive generations.
Some have left no memory,
and disappeared as though they had not existed,
they are now as though they had never been,
and so too, their children after them.
But here is a list of generous men
whose good works have not been forgotten.
In their descendants there remains
a rich inheritance born of them.
Their descendants stand by the covenants
and, thanks to them, so do their children’s children.
Their offspring will last for ever,
their glory will not fade.
After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.’ But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’
“Everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours”
I’m not very good at prayer. Sometimes I don’t know what to say and I wonder how some people can be so eloquent at it. I sometimes hesitate to ask God and tell Him what I need help with, probably because I am too embarrassed to ask or maybe it’s because I think ‘oh it’s such a small thing to bother God with’. Sometimes I think that I haven’t tried hard enough to fix the problem on my own yet, so I shouldn’t bother God with it.
I’ve realized over time that my attitude to prayer is all wrong. I go with the mindset that the battle is already half-lost, like I am a lost cause and hope that God, in His mercy, will have pity on me. God likes a cheerful giver and this too I believe applies to prayer. Who wants to hang out with someone always in the doldrums when they can experience smiles instead?
First and foremost, God is a merciful Father and all things are possible with Him. He only wants to give us what is good and best for us, being His children (Luke 11:11-13). Secondly, we have to be persistent in prayer and in our petitions. Jesus taught his disciples that they should be persistent, and your prayers will eventually be answered: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).
God also examines our hearts when we pray. We should approach our prayer with humility, for we are all sinners in some way. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18) underscores this. Do we seek God with a humble and contrite heart, or are we like the Pharisee who wants to trumpet his own righteousness?
Finally, in reference to today’s reading, we should have faith in our prayers. Believe that you have it already when you pray, says Mark 11:24. It will happen in God’s time, not our time; the important thing is that it will happen. God will get us there, no matter the journey. At the end of the day, if our eloquence fails us and if, like me, you have no words to pray, then let us say the Lord’s Prayer in confidence that God does hear us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: God, sometimes I don’t know what to pray, but I know that by praying, it is like having a conversation with you. On that note, I pray that we will have more conversations together where I can be a more cheerful conversationalist, than one who is a lost cause.
Thanksgiving: Thank you God, for hearing my prayers. Thank you for granting my prayers even though I doubt at times. I pray for a more steadfast attitude in future.