Drinking Well




   The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim.  Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek.
I, meanwhile, will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’  So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
     As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek.  But Moses’ arms grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his arms remained firm until sunset.  And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.                           
(Exodus 17: 8-13)



I invite you to think of two problems that are on your mind at the present time.  These problems may be affecting yourself or somebody else.  I have noticed that I can be worried about something which affects me or other people, and it never occurs to me to pray about it, to ask God to take the problem in hand.  Notice whether or not you have been praying about the two problems you called to mind just now. 
     Prayer is a strange thing.  We forget about it easily and yet we are drawn to it.  When the disciples saw Jesus praying, they were moved and attracted: ’Lord, teach us to pray,’ they said.  He taught them.  You may like to consider in what way the Lord is teaching you to pray at this point in your life.  The Holy Spirit moves each of us to pray in the way best suited to us; so we may be sure that he is teaching different people to pray in different ways. 

Praying about our problems

     I would like to suggest one way in which he may be teaching you to pray.  He may be inviting you to include in your prayers the problems that weigh on you , and to pray for the people you are concerned about.  You can do this very simply.  At any time of the day that you think of the problem or the person you are anxious about, you pray.  The prayer may be as short as the prayer of a woman in the Gospel who only said, ’Lord, help me.’ or the prayer of the lepers who cried out, ‘Jesus, have mercy on us.’  In your prayers at night, you may remember again the needs you were aware of during the day.  Your urgent prayer opens the way for the Lord to act, and it reassures you that the problems beyond your power are not beyond his.

Praying for other people’s problems

     On any given day our care and concern reaches far beyond our own kith and kin; we hear about sudden deaths, tragic accidents, suicides and violent crimes.  We hear about the war in Syria, the political upheaval in Egypt, we hear of food shortages and famine, and the plight of those in refugee camps.  When we allow our hearts to be touched with compassion for the men, women and children caught us in these crises; it is a pity not to take a further step or two.  We can make an urgent prayer for the people in each situation as we hear about it.  Sometimes we may be drawn to take some concrete action, but the prayer is a vital step in opening the way for God’s action, and in preparing ourselves for whatever action we might take ourselves, if the Lord is calling us to do so.

Heart-felt and strong

     Pope Francis insists that such prayer needs to be heart-felt, strong and courageous.  He says that a polite Our Father and Hail Mary are not enough.  He told a story about a father in Argentina whose seven year old daughter fell gravely ill: the doctors gave her only a few hours to live.  In extreme desperation the father took a bus to a shrine of Our Lady, forty miles away.  He arrived there after 9 pm when all the gates were closed.  He gripped the iron fence with his hands and he prayed and prayed all through the night; he wept and struggled with God to heal his child.  In the morning he took the first bus back to the hospital to find that that his daughter was out of danger, the fever was gone and she was breathing normally.

Arms raised until sunset

     Jesus tells us one more important thing about these prayers of petition: the one who prays must persevere and not give up.  The unusual story of Moses’ prayer is a good example.  The Amalekites attacked the Israelites and the battle was fierce.  Moses took his place on a hill overlooking the field of battle.  He raised his hands in prayer and the Israelites had the upper hand.  But his arms grew tired and he let them down, and the tide turned in favour of the Amalekites.  Aaron and Hur sat Moses on a stone and held up his arms.  Moses continued his prayer with arms raised for the rest of the day and his people were saved and won the battle.

Brendan Clifford

Prayer: Psalm 13

How long, O Lord, will you forget me?
How long will you hide your face?
How long must I bear grief in my soul,
this sorrow in my heart day and night?
Look at me, answer me, Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes lest I fall asleep in death.
As for me, I trust in your merciful love.
Let my heart rejoice in your saving help:
Let me sing to the Lord for his goodness to me,
singing psalms to the name of the Lord, the Most High.



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