Daily Reflections

Luke 1:5-25

‘O Stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.’

Luke’s account of the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist do not fail, time and time again, to grab our attention. This is not surprising as Luke was a master storyteller who captures so beautifully the drama of the events which led to the birth of the Baptist.

The raw material Luke has to work with provides a rich mix for a compelling narrative: a barren couple, the appearance of an angel, the silence of unbelief (in the form of dumbness) and a heavenly name for a baby boy; but, of course, John was no ordinary baby boy. There is so much to reflect on and draw from this rich vein of Scripture that it can be hard to know where to start. We would like to concentrate on the lessons it has to teach us on prayer.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were a couple who prayed. Their relationship with God was expressed through their prayer life. Their plight of barrenness, a heavy burden to bear in a society which viewed childlessness as a curse and a sign of God’s displeasure, was, for sure, the basis for much of their supplication and intercession. Did they cry out to God in their suffering and anguish? Almost certainly they did, probably also yearning, groaning and beseeching God to help them. The fruit of their prayer was rich blessing and the result a baby boy.

God wants us to have confidence when praying to him because he wants to answer our prayers. This is not to be facile or simplistic. God delights to answer our prayers if we but turn to him. We all have different issues, concerns, problems, challenges which we have to face and deal with.God knows this, but sometimes what is needed is, as St Ignatius of Loyola said once, in The Art of Prayer: ‘the essential, indispensable element in prayer is attention. Without attention there is no prayer. True attention given by grace comes when we make our heart dead to the world.’

Lord, as Elizabeth and Zechariah were focused in prayer, may I too focus all my attention upon you, confident that you are holy and good and hear our prayer. Amen.

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25  •  Psalm 70(71):3-6, 16-17
Luke 1:5-25

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