Prayer and Mission

“Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest” (Luke 10: 2b).

It is not enough to love the Lord in order to be His collaborators. I may love Him and yet work against Him. This is what Peter did whom Jesus called “Satan”. He, Peter, actually hated the Cross, presumed to be better than anybody else and used the enemy’s weapons in order to defend Jesus (Mark 8: 31–33; 14: 28–31. 47). Even John and James, out of love (!), like all-time crusaders, wanted to exterminate those that Jesus wanted to save (Luke 9: 51ff); and they fought for the first places like all the rest (Mark 10: 35–45).

They argued about primacy even during the Last Supper, whereas Jesus was among them as One who serves (Luke 22: 24–27). What should we do in order not to be after, in God’s name, what He detests? How are we going to collaborate with Him and not with Satan? It is tragic to wear Jesus’ uniform and play for the enemy team.

I become “fit for God’s kingdom” when I desire, want and plead with the Lord in order to have such an oversized love for Him that it may take my inordinate affections away. Only thus, free from the possession of things, people or even God, I may be able to follow the Son on the way of self-giving, serving and trusting (Luke 9: 57–62). The beginning of mission is its end: prayer. Prayer is communion with the Lord: it changes us into Him and enables us to bear witness to Him.

“Pray”: praying or entreating is to ask the other what I need. “Praying” is related to “precarious”. I pray in order to obtain what only the other can give me. Prayer expresses desire, the only condition for obtaining the gift. Love, as all other relationships, is a gift that comes from the other person: I cannot give the gift to myself. God is infinite love: in need of infinite love as I am, I will receive of it as much as I long for.

As regards the essential things—earth, water, light, air, life and love—I am “precarious”. I can only receive them. My very being comes from the other: I am not self-made, I did not make myself. Prayer, inasmuch as it is a desire, doesn’t have a specific object. It is like hunger: it desires food, but doesn’t produce it, neither does it distinguish good food from poisonous ones. Only from the experience of other people do I know what to eat. As in everything else, I learn what to desire in order to receive what gives me life and not death. The Word of God itself suggests to me, time and time again, what to ask.

Jesus Himself, before starting His ministry, spent forty days in the desert in order to learn from the Word of God what to do or not to do, what to eat or not to eat. Also, before the call of the Twelve and the Sermon of the Beatitudes, He spent the night in prayer (Luke 6: 12ff). The disciples were sent out to the rest of the world in the measure that they “are with Him” (Mark 3: 14), united to Him like the branch to the vine (John 15: 1ff).

Otherwise, they will not bear fruit. For this the apostles, when they had many things to do, understood that they had better leave those things to others, in order to dedicate themselves to prayer and to the Word (Acts 6: 4). Also Moses, the leader of a people set towards freedom, in the first decisive struggle, remained on the mountain with lifted hands. Only in this way did the people overcome their enemies, image of the evil that is in us (Exodus 17: 1ff).

“Therefore”: in order to become a labourer, a collaborator of Jesus, prayer is the “therefore”. Because of this, the disciples asked Jesus: “Teach us how to pray” (Luke 11: 1ff). To pray as He Himself prays, in order to be like Him because one becomes what one longs for. Only those who are like Him, the Son, can witness the Father’s love to the brethren.

“The Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest”: it is work and in the interest of the “Lord of the harvest” to make us His collaborators; the harvest doesn’t belong to us but to “Him”. In order to become His labourers, we must be driven out of our egoism, desisting from our craving for possessions, power and showing off. Thus, we will be able to collaborate with Him because we will be like Him: love that gives and serves in humility. Otherwise, wherever we go, even with good intentions, we will, in reality, work against Him.

Reflect & Share

  • What importance do I give to prayer in my life?
  • Am I sufficiently free from the craving for power, possessions and appearance?

"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures. Open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.

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Father Rubén Padilla Rocha