THE SERVANT GENERAL
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
BEING GRANTED WHAT WE PRAY FOR
Today’s gospel: Matthew 18:15-20
What Jesus says about prayer today is often misunderstood
or misused. He says, “Again, I say to you, if two of
you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where
two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I
in the midst of them.” (v.19-20).
is not a magic formula for getting the Lord to grant what
we ask. This is not even just about Christians praying together,
with one ending his prayer with “in Jesus’ name
we pray” and everyone saying “Amen.”
Jesus is with us, even as we pray individually. Indeed, our
most basic time of prayer should be our individual time with
we may gather together to pray, we may invoke Jesus’
name in prayer, but will not necessarily be together “in
the name of Jesus.” We in fact carry the name of Christ
as a Christian, but do we live as a true Christian? If we
do not, then our being called Christian is just a nominal
appellation. We are Christian in name but not in deed.
when we come together and invoke the name of Jesus, but we
are in serious sin, or we have unforgiveness in our heart,
or our intent in prayer is less than noble, then, while Jesus
can be present in that gathering, we cannot expect that what
we pray for will be automatically granted by God. In fact,
we could be dishonoring, denigrating and desecrating the holy
name of Jesus when we invoke it. We would be using his name
in vain. On the other hand, if we are truly God’s people,
if we can confidently and justly proclaim that we are gathered
in the name of Jesus, then God is predisposed to hear us and
favorably grant our request.
when Jesus says that he is in the midst of those who pray
together, he does not mean ordinary presence (in the way he
is present in the world and with any of us), but rather that
he is with his people, as truly his body on earth, with those
who honor him as Lord, with those who are obedient to him
and desirous of doing his will. To such a people he will listen.
on the matter of two agreeing on what to pray for, again this
is not just about one saying an Amen to another’s prayer.
It means that the two are of one mind and heart with the Lord.
It means they only desire the Lord’s will be done and
for him to be glorified.
could also mean that there is a crucial matter to pray about,
and there has been some serious discussion, discernment and
individual prayer to really seek the will of God. God speaks
to them individually, and now they come together to collectively
ask God for something.
when people pray thus, then Jesus assures that the Father
will grant what they pray for. But why is it that so many
good Christians pray for what might obviously be for the good
and in accordance with God’s will, but their prayers
do not seem to be answered? For example, the end of abortion.
Or the end of the suffering of the people of Iraq and elsewhere.
Or for the peace of Christ to be upon the world.
God’s ways are different from ours. God will always
desire the good, for He is goodness itself, and He will always
hear the prayers of people of good will, but His answers or
solutions could be drastically different from what we think
best. For example, as the cross is something we are to embrace,
and it is the way of purification and following in the footsteps
of Jesus, then oftentimes God allows crosses to remain. This
was the way it was with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. This
was the way it was with Jesus, who asked that the cup pass
from him, but surrendered to the will of the Father, who willed
that he suffer and die on the cross, as the only way for our
we can be assured that if we gather worthily in Jesus’
name and we agree on what we are to pray for, God hears and
answers. God’s intent is joined with ours, even as His
action on specific relief may be greatly different from ours.
Pope Francis has called for a Day of Prayer for Peace
in Iraq on August 18. Let Christians throughout the
world agree on earth for relief for all those suffering in
Iraq. Let all Catholics pray, say an extra rosary, go to Mass,
fast for this intention, and thus become worthy to pray in
the name of Jesus.