Lent requires a little preparation. We need to think about what we do, about who we are, and our relationship with Jesus. Today the prayer helps us to ask what we want from Jesus in our relationship with him.
The time a couple of centuries before Jesus was an interesting one. There was a lot of political fighting, war, and religious fighting. It was a time when some sought to blend in, becoming like the culture around them. Others sought to defend their religious freedom. Still others sought to impose their ways of belief on others by killing them. It was a time that became perfect for the arrival of Jesus on the earth. Why? Because it became a time where the power of personal witness invited people to a more powerful relationship with God. Jesus did not force others to believe in him. It was the authentic witness of faith that inspired others to believe in him. This personal relationship of trust in God was one which led to total surrender, even at the cost of death. What is your witness? How do you help people to see in the way you live your life the invitation to believe in Jesus?
Today’s gospel from Luke continues lessons on the topic of prayer, which we have been focused upon this week. The emphasis today is about the power of perseverance, which might seem to be undone by the words at the end of the gospel which can be seen as suggesting prayer is really easy. “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” But the rub is that while the one who asks, receives, they may get something different than what they asked for. The one who seeks might find what they did not expect. The one who knocks may find the door opens to a different place. But prayer is first and foremost about Jesus. And by asking, seeking, knocking, we know we are never alone.
Go into any bookstore and find the “self-help” section and there are really an unbelievable number of books. It seems that many have an opinion that doing something easy will make life perfect. And if we are not careful, the Christian life can be reduced to the same “self-help” philosophy. If we go around doing good, we will be better. But Christian discipleship is more than this. It is entering into a powerful relationship with Jesus, and allowing that relationship to change us, perhaps even allowing it to take us where we do not want to go. Jesus is not a self-help guru, but the divine Son of God who heals our sin and brokenness and calls to something more than we can imagine.