Saturday, September 17, 2016

Without Anger or Argument

By Melanie Rigney

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?” (Amos 8:4-5)

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.  (Psalm 113:1a,7b)

There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle—I am speaking the truth, I am not lying—teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. (1 Timothy 2:5-8)

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” (Luke 16:10)

Lord, may love be the focus of my prayer life… and my earthly life.

The New American Bible notes on today’s second reading from 1 Timothy 2 tell us Paul’s intent is to direct that “the prayer of the community should be unmarred by internal dissension.” (The verses that follow the reading, for example, set forth rules for women in community worship.)

I wonder, though, if Paul also was talking about something more basic. What does our prayer life look like? We all know about ACTS—adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. But how much of our time is spent in supplication… and how much of it is done without anger or argument? Do we spend time beseeching the Lord to punish someone who has injured us? Do we complain about the challenges we are facing… chronic illness, the loss of loved ones, trouble at work, a disappointment in our relationships?

It’s one thing to be angry with God. It’s quite another to devote our prayers to that end, rather than asking for relief or clarity or patience. As we lift up those hands, let’s keep our call to holiness in mind.

Spend some time with your supplication “list.” How much anger and argument is in it? Talk with a priest or trusted adviser or friend about how you might change that.

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