Opening Question: Have you ever traded something? What was it? Did you ever get a good deal on the trade? Why was it a good deal?
First Reading: Genesis 18:20-32a
A few years ago, every boy collected sports trading cards. Barry was no different from the others. Barry saved his money, brought what he could, and traded for others. Barry was good at collecting, but he was better and getting a good trade.
Barry really wanted a Tony Gwynn rookie year card. There were plenty around, but Barry wanted this card in excellent shape. When Barry found out that his friend Sam had the Gwynn card, he began to bargain with Jerry.
Barry had a way to bargain. First, he made his deals simple, so everyone could understand what he wanted. Second, he always had the person he dealt with feel special; when Barry made the trade with the person, they felt more important after they made the trade. Third, after Barry helped the person feel special, he made his deal and kept the person focused on the deal.
Barry knew that Sam had all but three cards to complete the 1992 NY Yankees team. Barry also had the three cards Jerry need to complete the set. So, Barry asked Sam about the Yankee team, and talked about how special Sam would be with a full set of cards. Then, Barry told Sam about the deal. Once he started, Barry didn't give up. In the end, Barry got his Gwynn card and Sam finished the Yankee's set. Sam was proud; Barry was happy.
In today's first reading, Abraham got a bargain with God the same way Barry got a deal with Sam. Abraham wanted to save the good people in these cities, especially his nephew. So Abraham asked God for their safety, but made God feel special as the one who would do what is right. After this, it was a matter of numbers.
God listened to Abraham because he knew what he wanted, because he helped God see the goodness in saving the cities, and because he didn't give up. Let's not give up asking God for good things!
Bridging Question: Persistence means not giving up on something you want. What you ever been persistent? What happened?
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
Once, Jesus was outside praying. When he finished, some of his followers asked him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just like John taught his followers."
Jesus answered, "When you pray, say:
Let your name be honored!
Let your Kingdom come!
Give us tomorrow's bread everyday!
Forgive us, as we forgive everyone who hurt us!
And don't allow us to be tested by the devil!"
"Which one of you will do the following?" Jesus continued. "Go to a neighbor's house in the middle of the night and ask: 'Hey! Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine just came into town on his travels. And I don't have anything to feed him!'
From inside his house, won't your neighbor answer , 'Don't bother me! The door is locked and the kids are in bed! I can't get up and get you any bread." I tell you the neighbor won't get up and give the man what he wants just because he was a friend. No! The neighbor will get up and give the man as much as he wants just because he keeps on asking!
So, ask God and he will give to you. Seek his will, and you will find it. Knock on the door to his Kingdom, and God will be open it for you. Everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks will have the door opened for them.
Which father among you will give his son a snake if he asks for a fish? Or a scorpion if he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you all know to give your children good things. Then, how much more will God the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Jackie never gave up! Usually she was quiet and nice, but if she wanted something, watch out! She would argue, pester, smile, do anything she needed to do so she could get what she wanted. She never ever gave up!
On the soccer field, she worked hard to get the skills she needed to win. At school, she worked hard to get good grades. At church, she focused hard on her prayer, so she could receive First Communion. Whatever Jackie wanted, she did everything she could to get.
Once, Jackie's cousin Tammy visited her from out of town. Together they planned to go to the mall, have lunch, and see a movie. But they didn't ask Jackie's mother about her plans for the day. That lack of planning led to a discussion.
"Mom" Jackie asked, "can you drop Tammy and me off at the mall?"
"No, Jackie, not today. I have errands to run," her mother sighed, knowing what would happen next.
"Mom! " Jackie said as her voice stiffened. "Tammy just came into town and we're bored! If we go to the mall we'll have fun!"
"Jackie!" her mother responded as she raised her voice.
Back and forth, higher and higher went the volume of the voices and the intensity of the discussion. Suddenly, Jackie's mother looked at her watch and realized the time she wasted with her daughter. "No! Jackie!" her mother said as she cut off the conversation. "Not today! I have to go. Maybe tomorrow."
But Jackie would not be denied. "Mom, how can I be a good host for my cousin if I can't have some fun?" Jackie said in her nicest voice. "Can't we work something out?"
Her mother looked at her watch again with a grimace. Then she stood silently for a moment and thought. After a few long seconds, her mother broke the silence. "If you and Tammy help me with the grocery shopping and a few other chores, I'll drop you off at the mall for a few hours. But you really have to help me!"
That was good enough for Jackie. She, her mother, and Tammy worked hard that morning to get the chores done. That afternoon, Jackie and Tammy had a great time at the mall with lunch and a movie.
Jesus taught his followers the Our Father. But he reminded them to always pray the prayer. And to always mean it. Like persistent Jackie, Jesus wants us to always pray to God. To pester him. To never give up on him. We are to pray like the pesky neighbor who asked for bread in the middle of the night.
Let us be like the neighbor and like Jackie. With God, let's never give up!
Closing Question: How can you be persistent in prayer?