Sunday, July 25, 2010

Keep on knocking

"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it - but all that has gone before."
- Jacob Riis
I just arrived late last night after a work-related, 3-day industry convention at the northern mountain city of Baguio. It was a very draining yet thankfully productive exercise. At one point in the workshop, our committee comprised of five were tasked to draw up IT strategic directions for the year, which we had to present to the plenary the next morning. Our group was basically discussing and intensely arguing on for about three hours during the night but we could not finalize anything. It was very frustrating and I was tempted to move for an adjournment. However, in the next 30 minutes our ideas suddenly jibed together and we were finally able to get a consensus on our presentation. Looking back, I knew it was not exactly the last 30 minutes that led to our results, but the previous 3 hours of continuous discussions that went before.

This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 11:1-13) teaches us the value of persistence when we lift up our petitions to God. Indeed we should keep knocking until the door is opened, yet the reality is we really need countless doors to be opened. We can never live meaningfully without continuously knocking because without Him, we can really do nothing. That is why St. Paul teaches us to pray unceasingly. We must never feel frustrated. He asks us to pray day and night, in joy and in sorrow, at work and at play, without intermissions or adjournments.

Here is an excerpt from Henri Nouwen's "Living a prayerful life", which relates beautifully why we need to maintain a constant, "fearless" conversation with God.

To pray unceasingly, as St.Paul asks us to do, would be completely impossible if it meant to think constantly about God...To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God...

Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought of in the presence of God.Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves as from a self-centered monologue into a God-centered dialogue...

So the next time I participate in a convention, I must remind myself that it is not "work-related". Instead, I've realized that when we consider everything we do as "God-related", every moment in our lives takes on a profound significance. It should make no difference whether it is 1 minute, 30 minutes, 3 hours, or even a lifetime. It just feels good to keep on knocking, because every knock counts.

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