2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
There is a mental conundrum about prayer that we can at times get trapped in. The problem is this: why do I need to ask God for something when He already knows that I need it? It gets even worse the deeper into the mystery of God we go… if God’s will is eternal and unchanging, then how can my prayer have any “effect”?
Or, if we say that all our good intentions and all our faith comes from God, then why is prayer necessary at all – if my desire and ability to pray for my mother’s health comes to me from God, then it can almost seem like a ‘hoop’ that we must jump through, arbitrary and perhaps somewhat cruel. Why wouldn’t God just give us everything we need?
Perhaps these questions do not trouble you at all – a blessing. But we who are accustomed to think in worldly ways must learn to change our way of thinking. In the first reading today, St. Paul gives us something of an answer to these questions: “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.”
God has willed that our salvation and transformation takes place through constant petition for our needs – material, but more importantly, spiritual. God desires to have mercy on us, yet that mercy comes in and through our own petition for it. By constantly asking, we acknowledge our dependence, and thus we make ourselves open to grace. Prayer does involve something of a circular motion – from God, to us, from us to God. But rather than being pointless, as if prayer was merely information processing caught in an endless loop; the very motion of this circle is what transforms and glorifies us in Christ.
—Mr. Timothy Kieras, SJ
Lord, as your follower I am called to be another Christ. Therefore I must empty myself of me to make room for you. Woe to me if my brothers and sisters come to me seeking you and find only me.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team