One of the points I made in today’s homily was in relation to the opening verse of the gospel: “Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.” If we give time to prayer, we will come to know God in a personal way. Once this friendship with God develops we can experience something of what St Teresa of Avila said: “If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend.” This is the key to not losing heart or hope. As St Padre Pio put it: “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”

Today’s Office of Readings from St Augustine also had counsel on prayer. His main point is that praying isn’t necessary for God to know what our needs are, as he is all-knowing to begin with. Rather, telling God our needs allows us to grow in desire for his great gifts: Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us. We need to realise that our Lord and God wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke with unbelievers.

  The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. No eye has seen it; it has no colour. No ear has heard it; it has no sound. It has not entered man’s heart; man’s heart must enter into it.

St Augustine also says we should pray most of all for the heavenly gifts of God: Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple? There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing, he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit.