Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – April 21, 2022
5th Day Within the Octave of Easter, Thursday, Year C
Readings: Acts 3:11-26; Ps 8:2ab, 5-9; Gospel Lk 24:35-48
Theme: Sincerity in Prayer
Have you ever noticed the difference in the way you pray for something and the results that happen due to that prayer? Before we dive into that question, we must understand that Jesus hears all prayers, great, small, and in between. As a matter of fact, He can hear our thoughts of prayer even when we don’t voice them. When you invoke Jesus (God) in any manner, He is listening, good or bad. That is one reason not to take the Lord our God’s name in vain, He is always listening to us. Also, Jesus is most joyful when we pray to Him and ask for His help. This shows Him that we revere and trust Him and consider Him as family and part of our lives.
So, does it make a difference how we pray? Yes, it does. As we know, Jesus hears all prayers and He appreciates them, but the manner in which that prayer was delivered can give Him a view of how sincere we are about our need or reverence within that prayer. For example, if you are late for work and driving a little faster than you normally would and are approaching a stop-n-go light that is green, you might quickly say under your breath, “God, I will never miss church again if you don’t let the lights turn red.” Sure enough, the lights turn red, and you have to stop. You may even think to yourself, “Thanks a lot God for not helping me get to work on time.” He did not answer your prayer the way you wanted Him to because there was no humility or sincerity in that prayer, and you were expecting quid-pro-quo.
On the other hand, you could have a sick child in the car who is in need of emergent medical care. You have been praying to God to keep your child safe all morning. As you are driving, you trust in God’s will that He has heard you and will make your way smooth because you truly believe that God will make all things right. As you approach that intersection with the stop-n-go light, you continue to trust that God has your child in His hands. Whether the light turns red or stays green does not matter, God, through your earnest and deep prayer, has your back. The light still turns red, but you are not upset because that red light stopped you from entering an intersection where an inattentive driver just blew through it. Had the light not turned red, you and your child may not have made it to the medical office at all. God understood your sincerity and trust and helped you in a way you did not expect.
In today’s readings, we hear of the crippled man who was healed by Jesus through Peter the Apostle. The crippled man most likely knew Jesus and that Peter was one of His disciples. If he truly believed that Jesus could forgive his sins and heal him through his disciple Peter, he would be cured. And so, he was. His sincere and heartfelt prayer and trust in Jesus cured him. In the Gospel, the resurrected Jesus confirms this to the Apostles that He had to suffer, die, and be raised on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name. The crippled man knew how to sincerely pray and believed that his prayer would be heard. With humility, he accepted whatever outcome God had in store for him.
Prayer is a conversation with God. If your conversation is superficial and without heart, similar to that of a person shaking your hand yet looking at the person behind you whom they really want to talk to, God may not be impressed with your need for Him. We must not extort God for favors or act with impunity toward Him without humility and sincerity in our hearts. That kind of prayer must not expect anything from God.