Tuesday, 5th Week of Lent

            “If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

            Jesus’ message is very clear: Faith that he is the Son of God leads to life. Disbelief leads to death. Our tendency might be to look down on those Pharisees who refused to believe in Jesus. Instead, their lack of belief should spur us to examine our own faith. Is our faith in Christ limited to an intellectual agreement with Christian doctrine, an assent that we express in a dutiful, perhaps mechanical way? Do we recite prayers simply as formulas, or as expressions of love and trust in Jesus? Do we open our hearts every day to the power of the Holy Spirit? Faith is a tremendous gift from God. Do we receive it and exercise it on a daily basis?

            The first place we are called to exercise our faith is in prayer. Let me talk first about “the prayer of little faith.” Henri Nouwen has this to say about this matter: “The prayer of little faith makes us cling to the concrete circumstances of the present situation in order to win a certain security.” “The prayer of little faith is filled with wishes which beg for immediate fulfillment.” “This kind of prayer has a Santa Claus naïveté, and wants the direct satisfaction of very specific wishes and desires.” “When the prayer is not heard, that is, when we do not get the present or the gift we wanted, we feel disappointment, even bitterness.” “This prayer of little faith carries a great deal of fear and anxiety with it.”

            Our prayer must be a profound expression of our belief and faith in the Lord. Leo Zanchettin, in his commentary, makes this suggestion: “Experiment with your prayer life.” “Ask God to teach you how to worship him and how to detect the movements of the Holy Spirit in your heart.” “When you read the Bible, try to put aside other distractions and trust that God wants to speak to you through his word.” “Make specific intercession for others, trusting that with even a small amount of faith, you can move mountains.”

            No matter where you are in your prayer life, there is always room for more. Jesus wants to give us greater faith and a deeper experience of his love. In prayer, let us allow his love to break through in our hearts. Let us speak to him sincerely and honestly. Believe that if you ask him for greater faith, he will give it. Let us pray for greater faith in the Lord so that we may know his presence more fully.

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