In recent weeks we have heard in the gospel readings for Sunday about the importance of faith. When Jesus visits his home town the gospel writer Mark indicates that Jesus performed few miracles. Jesus indicates that he was amazed at their lack of faith. In the previous Sunday, Mark tells of Jesus saying to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Faith is indeed important but is it that simple?
Perhaps we stand in the way of God when we pray in such a way that indicates the result we want from our prayer. Perhaps we are praying for healing, for employment, about a troubled relationship, about problems in our families and yet the answer does not come in the way that we desire. Our prayer needs to be a trust in God that God will guide us through whatever the trouble is by God’s love and support.
When I retired I joined the YMCA and began swimming. I was not a good swimmer but I could swim the length of the pool without sinking. As I continued swimming I found myself becoming more and more comfortable going back and forth. There is something about swimming that lends itself to prayer. One can repeat a phrase like “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us.” Often, if the distractions are not too great, I find myself doing this. This phrase also works well while walking.
One morning I had the thought that God is like the water that holds me up while swimming. If I am somewhat confidant in my swimming strokes, I cannot sink to the bottom. The water holds me up. God too holds us up in our lives. If we are serious in seeking a relationship with God through prayer, celebration of Eucharist, in studying the Scriptures our confidence grows. If we do not try to control or work against the water, it will bear us up. So does God. If we place our trust in God, if we grow in our faith, we will find that God will hold us up. We have to be ready, however, to accept how God does this and not stand in the way of God by demanding our own desires. It is enough to simply be held up by God believing we will make it through the many challenges of life. God will show us the way if we are patient and trusting.