17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 28, 2019
So called “autonomous vehicle technology”…driverless cars…make me very nervous. The very thought of giving complete control of a moving vehicle over to a computer frightens me. I was relieved to learn that automakers were overly ambitious in projecting that thousands of self-driving taxis would take to the highways during 2019. Now stalled in the experimental and testing phase, maybe I will never have to shop for a car, not to drive, but that will drive me.
On the other hand, I very much appreciate the new technology that is now standard on most vehicles that still require a human operator. The camera that projects what’s behind the car on a little TV screen when the vehicle is in reverse is like having “eyes in the back of my head.” The little blinking light that appears in the side view mirror accompanied by a warning signal makes expressway driving a lot less threatening. When someone is sneaking up on my “blind spot,” I am instantly aware of it, even before I see the danger. Not to mention GPS, which makes it next to impossible to get lost.
This technology was thousands of years into the future when Jesus was asked to teach His followers to pray. But if folks had been using “driverless cars” rather than donkeys and chariots as a means of transportation, it would’ve been a good image for Jesus to use in addressing the issue of prayer.
In his reply, the Lord offers us the content. He gave us the words, but prayer involves more than words. The attitude and expectations we bring to prayer are also very important. Just possibly, that was what his disciples were looking for when they asked the Lord: “Teach us to pray.” Having observed Him at prayer, they were eager for the same depth of communion with The Almighty.
Actually, in all that He said and did, The Lord has given us the ultimate example of perfect prayer. At all times, and in every way, Jesus gave total and complete control over to The Father. He came to prayer with an attitude of unwavering acceptance of God’s will and with the expectation that God always answers our prayers in the most loving of ways.
That’s challenging. To relinquish complete control over our lives to God is a bit like getting into a driverless car and telling it where to go, trusting the vehicle to take us there. Except it is much more. When we enter into perfect prayer, as Jesus did, we tell God: Take me to the place You want me to be.
But after He prayed, we see Jesus spring into action. Having accepted The Father’s will, The Son did not just sit back comfortably to enjoy the ride. He accepted the responsibility of moving God’s plan forward. He took the wheel!
Acceptance is key to Christian spirituality. When we enter into prayer, like Jesus, we should try our best to embrace an attitude of complete acceptance of God’s will. When we enter into prayer, we should do so with the expectation that our prayers are received with perfect love and answered with perfect love.
Then, when our prayer is over, we need to take back the wheel with renewed confidence that we are headed where God wants us to be and have been given the ability to get there safely. Through prayer, we can look behind us…identifying past mistakes that threaten to take us off course. Our prayer provides us with warnings that signal dangers hidden in our blind spots. Prayer is a spiritual GPS that monitors our progress, reroutes us when necessary, and keeps us moving toward our final destination…The Kingdom of God.
He has indeed given us the words and demonstrated the right attitude and proper expectations…so that only one thing remains…LET US PRAY!