LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

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He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them
(Heb.7:25).

Do you believe it? If and only if you believe it do you have any kind of fellowship with the true Church of Jesus Christ. Because the belief in the power of Jesus Christ to save us is the cornerstone of christian faith. I presume all of us have built our edifices on this cornerstone.

If you believe what is written in the Letter to the Hebrews, two things follow from it. That Jesus Christ is able to save us, if we approach God the Father through him and that this power is derived from the fact that he lives forever and is always willing to intercede for us.

When we analyse these statements further, one thing becomes clear. Bible tells us about a God who can be approached through Jesus. Moreover, Jesus introduced a God who is the Eternal Father. He does not know any other God. If we go through the proper channel, ie approach the God through Jesus Christ, it is his promise that he will get everything we need from the Father.

‘Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you’ (John 16:23). Then why don’t we get the things we ask for? It seems to be a difficult question. But it is not. Read further and you will get the answer. ‘Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you wil receive, so that your joy may be complete’ (John 16:24).

The problem is not with God the Father or Jesus Christ, the Son. The Problem is with us. We are not asking anything in the name of Jesus. Unless we ask, how can He give us anything?

Summarising what we have been discussing will bring us to the essentials of christian prayer. It is placing our needs before our Eternal Father, through our only mediator, Jesus Christ. Our assurance in prayer is that Jesus Christ is still alive to hear our prayer and to take them to his Father for a speedy disposal.
Then why don’t we use this channel? This question is not directed to you, but to those so called catholics, many in high places, looking for other ways to propitiate a god whom Jesus has never introduced to us. They prefer a kind of assorted prayers drawing material from all faith systems across the globe and marketing it under the attractive label of ‘ inter religious prayer’. There are many at the top echelons of the Church who are more comfortable with this kind of ‘prayer’ rather than a simple ‘Our Father in heaven’.

In these days, when the world is under the attack of COVID19, they have again come up with the same old prescription to fight it. They say, inter religious prayer will cure the disease.

Will it work? I have no doubt that prayer will bring miracles. But, where is our faith? We failed miserably to understand who God is and who Jesus Christ is. We failed to understand the meaning of prayer. Many among us seldom consider the one and only Triune God, the Creator of everything as the true God.

How else can we explain the aberrations coming from the catholic hierarchy where Jesus Christ is reduced to one among many gods and demigods? How can we explain praying together with somebody for whom even uttering the word Trinity is forbidden, and for whom Jesus Christ has never been the Son of God? What is common in prayer between a christian and somebody who believes that Jesus Christ was never crucified, leave alone rising from the dead? How can we pray with somebody who worship the elements and try to propitiate them in their own ways?

I admit, we are all human beings holding different systems of faith. Each one of us pray according to his or her faith and conviction. They may or may not get positive outcomes from their prayers. That is not the subject of our discussion. We, as christians are called to a different type of faith, where we believe in a God who, when the fullness of time had come, sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children (Gala.4:4-5).

What do you think? When your child asks for bread, will you give stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will you give a snake? ” If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?'( Mathew 7:11).

If we are not getting good things from our Father, it is because we are not asking it the proper way. Instead of asking the Father through the Son, we are seeking recourse to other means to approach God. Is there anybody among you who would appreciate your children approaching you through your neighbour? If not, why don’t you approach your Father in heaven the proper way?

From this background think about the inter religious prayers involving the Church, most important being the one recommended by Pope Francis to be organised on 14th May. For a christian, any meeting with a non-christian should be an occasion to proclaim the Good News to them. It should be an opportunity to introduce to them the only true God who revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. Now we have to introspect. Are we utilising the platforms of inter religious prayers for advancing this purpose? Experience shows that whenever such programmes are organised, Church was a net loser in the process of give and take. I mean, we accept more things from others than giving Christ to them.

Please don’t misread the message of this article. I am a strong advocate of inter religious dialogue. I strongly believe in tolerance towards other faith systems. I fully understand that social and religious harmony is imperative and that we should build bridges in a multi religious, multicultural society in which we live today. But unfortunately, what we are witnessing for the past few decades is that bridges built to cross the great divide of faith are being used for one way traffic only. Many christians who crossed the bridge once never returned. And the traffic from the other side of the bridge has been negligible.

This is against the final commandment of our Lord as recorded by the Evangelists:
‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you’ ( Mathew 28: 19-20). Instead of teaching others as commanded by the Lord, we are learning from them things totally alien to the christian faith!
“Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned( Mark 16:15-16). Instead of going out and proclaiming the Good News to the world, we are inviting the world in to deliver the bad news to us!
‘Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem’ ( Luke 24:47). Instead of calling a spade a spade, we are drifting to new shores where any reference to sin is sugarcoated to please the world and where uttering the word forgiveness itself becomes unforgivable.

I fear the zeal to proclaim Jesus Christ and the salvation which he offers to mankind takes a backseat in the over-enthusiasm to appease fellow religions in the name of inter religious prayers. My apprehensions increased while going through the composition of the Higher Committe of Human Fraternity which issued the call for prayer on 14th May. Remember that this committee was the offspring of the Document on Human Fraternity jointly signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Egypt in February 2019. Of its nine members 5 are Muslims, two Christians, one Jew and one ex-UNESCO expert, whose religious affiliation I couldn’t verify.

When such a committee issues a call for inter religious prayers, it is natural that they will avoid the name of Jesus Christ from it. Ironically Pope Francis also didn’t mention, not even once, the name of Jesus Christ while issuing statements supporting the initiative which includes prayer, fasting and works of charity. It might be accidental that the prayer date happened to be in the middle of Ramadan, when muslims across the world observe prayer, fasting and works of charity. For them, there might be nothing new in this initiative.

When the Catholic leaders avoided any reference of Jesus Christ while supporting this initiative, it is good to know what the Grand Imam of Egypt Dr. el Tayeb said; “I welcome the noble humanitarian call made by the Committee to invite people around the world to pray, supplicate for the good of all humanity and do good for the sake of Allah, Almighty, in order to eliminate this pandemic for the entire world’. They are not ashamed of proclaiming their faith in every available forum.

We will be surprised to know how the statement of Pope Francis is being misused to further the agenda of anti-christian philosophies. Following is a report from an Islamic Daily. ‘ Pope Francis has called on believers of all faiths to join the call to worldwide prayer on May 14, to observe Ramadan fast and prayer and works of charity to implore God’. Look, how cleverly they deceive the gullible people! They simply added the word ‘Ramadan’ before ‘fast’ while reporting Pope’s call for prayer. They know that it is easy to convince the muslims and rest of the world that the Pope of Catholic Church is a sympathiser of Islam. Who is to blame? Before plunging into uncharted waters, we should have done more homework.

This is an indication of things to come, where the name of Jesus Christ will be obliviated first and then erased totally from our lives. Be watchful. This is the time to pray not to somebody, but to the only true God who is our Father in heaven.

V-Catholic calls on you- Catholics- to unite in prayer for the mercy of our Heavenly Father to be poured upon the entire world and its inhabitants.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heave
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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