On Our Knees and at Our Beads

User’s Guide to Sunday, Oct. 16

Pray-ers know the power of persistent prayer.
Pray-ers know the power of persistent prayer. (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, Oct. 16, is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8.

Today’s readings speak to us of the power of persistent prayer. The first reading in particular depicts prayer quite powerfully. In it, we can discern six fundamental teachings on prayer.


Problem for Prayer 

“In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel”: None of us like problems, but they help to keep us praying. Israel was at war, and their enemies were strong; it was time to pray. Today’s Gospel also concerns a widow who is troubled about something; this problem keeps her coming back to the judge. Sometimes God allows us to have problems in order to keep us praying and humble and to remind us of our need for God and others.


Priority of Prayer 

“Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, ‘Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him: He engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.” Notice that Joshua and the army did not go forth until after Moses took up his position of prayer. Prayer ought to precede any major decision or action. We often rush into things without praying. We should begin each day with prayer. Important decisions should also elicit prayer from us. 


Power of Prayer 

“As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.” Prayer changes things. Here in this world, we may never fully know how our prayers helped to change history, but I am sure that one of the joys of heaven will be to see what a difference our prayers, even the distracted and poor ones, made. In this passage, Moses struggles to pray; so do we. Remembering prayer’s power is an important motivator to keep us on our knees and at our beads. Pray! 


Partnership of Prayer 

“Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile, Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other.” Moses knew that because of his fatigue, he needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur. They all prayed together, and Israel was strengthened and regained the upper hand. While personal prayer is important, so is communal and group prayer. Do you have some spiritual friends who help you not only to pray, but also to walk uprightly? Do not pray or journey alone. Find some spiritual friends to accompany you.


Persistence of Prayer 

“[Moses’] hands remained steady till sunset.” With Aaron and Hur to help him, Moses prayed right through until sunset. They prayed right up to the end — and so must we. There is a mystery as to why God sometimes makes us wait; pray anyway. Be like the woman in today’s Gospel, who just kept coming to that judge until he rendered justice for her. Keep on praying! 


Product of Prayer 

“And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” The text says that the enemies of Israel were utterly defeated. This shows the product and the power of persistent prayer. We may not fully see the results of prayer on this side of the veil, but on glory’s side, one day we will.