3 Conversations: Disciples Making Disciples, Intentional Prayer

3 Conversations: Disciples Making Disciples, Intentional Prayer

It’s the first week. We are pleased to tell you that this is the first week of our new homily series we are calling Three Conversations: Disciples Making Disciples. For the next three weeks we are going to be discussing three very simple ideas you can use to share Jesus with the world. These three simple ideas are simply three conversations.

This week’s topic is intentional prayer.Remember, prayer is simply conversation with God. We talk to God, and we listen to God. That’s conversation. We sometimes pray with our spouses or family members. When we do that, sometimes we pause for a moment and ask the people we are praying with to offer their own intentions. We especially do that with our children. We have been encouraging you for the last couple of years to do the same with your spouse. When we verbalize our prayer intentions, we often reveal to the people we are praying with the things that are closest to our hearts.

When we pray this way we reveal something about ourselves, our struggles, our loves, and our joys. This is a beautiful way to pray because it unites us ever more closely with the person or persons we are praying with. Thus we enter into a beautiful conversation of prayer with each other and with God. Such prayerful conversation builds and strengthens our relationship with the other, or others, and with God. This is the beauty and power of intentional prayer. It is intentional for two reasons. We are deliberately and intentionally deciding we are going to have this type of conversation and the conversations revolve around our prayer intentions which we lift up to God.

You may be thinking: “I’m too embarrassed to do that with my spouse or other people I love or care about.” If you feel that way, I encourage you to consider how well this works with children. It works well with children because they are so willing to be vulnerable and trusting. So yes, this sort of prayerful conversation will lead us down the path of being willing to be more vulnerable around those we care about and building trust with them which will grow your relationship in a beautiful way.

If you will practice praying this way around those you trust, you will also be able to have this type of conversation with people you do not know, and then you are really becoming a disciple who is making other disciples. Praying with others in this way is often the first step in learning how to be a disciple that makes other disciples. Why would we want to do that? We want to be a disciple who makes other disciples, because that is exactly what Jesus tells us to do. He tells us to go out and make disciples. If you do that with those you care about, and those who care about you, you will learn how to do it with people you do not know as well or eventually even with people you do not know at all.

Yes, prayer is simply conversation, and in its simplicity, it has great power. Prayer is the most potent force known to humanity. Because we have been made partakers in Jesus’ victory over sin and death (1 John 4:4), we have the authority as sons and daughters of God to pray for others, pushing back the darkness of difficulty, the darkness of trials, the darkness of sin, and oppression. In prayer, we have a weapon, a weapon that has divine power” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

That kind of weaponry—the power of prayer—the power of simple conversation with God is something God invites us to use as we seek not only our personal transformation but the transformation of the world as well.

I encourage you —try not to be too intimidated by this type of conversation we call prayer. Think about how simple this really is. For example, maybe someone you know brings up a difficult situation, maybe an illness or the death of someone. Rather than say, I’ll pray for you, ask the person right then and there if you can pray WITH them. Even when people do not know I am a priest, and I ask them if I can pray with them, 99% of the time they say yes. And something beautiful often happens because they are moved simply by the fact that I invited them to pray.

When you have this kind of conversation with people, then you will be like what the prophet Isaiah describes in our first reading today. Isaiah refers to foreigners joining themselves to the Lord. You can help with that. That is, you can help the disconnected to connect. You can help the disconnected to connect to others and to the Lord. Isaiah also says God’s house will be a house of prayer for ALL peoples. So as you make disciples out of those who are not yet disciples, those who are disconnected or lost, will find their way back to God and God’s house. This is all because you began to have a simple, prayerful conversation with another person.

You don’t have to sound super religious. Just talk to God with them, like you would when you normally pray by yourself. The other person will open their heart and tell you what they would like to pray for. That part is easy. Also remember a couple of weeks ago we discussed how St. Paul, in his eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans, tells us that the Holy Spirit willpray within us. The Holy Spirit will give you the words, and help you to pray. You CAN do it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

This type of prayer we are talking about also happens in the Gospel passage we heard today. Note the word intention here. A lady intentionally, that is very deliberately, approaches Jesus and prays for her daughter. She offers a prayer intention for her daughter when she asks Jesus to heal her daughter. The lady is someone who is completely disconnected from the Jewish people which is why the disciples want Jesus to send her away. But the woman has the courage to pray even in this awkward situation. Can you be like that? Chances are it will not be so awkward for you as it was for the woman in the gospel because she was an outsider and a Canaanite, who would have been an enemy to the Jewish people. You don’t have to contend with anywhere near that level of awkwardness.

Have you ever been talking to someone in a store or in a parking lot or maybe another school parent, or maybe even someone around church or in the church office, and they describe a difficult situation to you? Can you imagine yourself asking them right then and there, saying something like: “This sounds really difficult. Can I pray with you right now for this?” You CAN do it. You probably think: “Of course this is the priest guy talking, he is supposed to do that. He thinks this is easy, but I’m not like him. I can’t do that.” I’m here to tell you this was not always easy for me, but it is easier now. It is easier for me because I practiced. I practiced with our staff. Our staff and I continue to practice this conversation every week. You see, we have to make this conversation a habit so that we will learn to intentionally take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to have these conversations.

 

Maybe sometimes you think God never gives you opportunities to help him make disciples. We are telling you, loudly and clearly, today that everytime an opportunity comes up for you to pray with someone, God is giving you the opportunity to help make a disciple or a stronger disciple. You CAN do it. I know you can, and God knows you can because he created you. Jesus would not have sent you to make disciples if he did not think you could do it.

Encountering God is the heart of Catholic life. We are invited to pray, not just on Sundays at Mass, but every day! Our Father in heaven is the one who loves us 24/7, even if we sometimes forget this. Jesus came to earth to show us the face of the Father and remind us of God’s ever-present, unfailing love and mercy. God wants you to share his Son, Jesus, with the world. Every time you pray out loud with others, you remind others of Jesus and how he showed us God’s ever-present, unfailing love and mercy. Don’t you want to do that? Don’t you want to remind others of God’s ever-present, unfailing love and mercy? You CAN do it by simply having a conversation, a conversation of intentional prayer. That’s where it all starts, in a simple conversation called intentional prayer.

Those are the things we want you to know today. This is what we want you to do. Practice. Practice intentional prayer. Practice praying with your family and close friends this way asking them to name a thing for which they want you to pray. And develop the courage to do this with others. Jesus would not have sent you to make disciples if he did not think you could do it. Practice. It all starts, in a simple conversation called intentional prayer.