Jesus shows us that even the very life we live is part of our prayer. After praying the words, we must follow our prayers with actions. If we refuse to forgive those who sin against us, then our pleas for God’s forgiveness are not complete.

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In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells us: “If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name … ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete.” The problem is, after asking, we refuse to drop our burdens completely with Jesus. We rise to our feet with heavy hearts as though we wasted our time praying. If prayer does not leave you joyful and happy, it means you haven’t prayed. Start all over again!

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The same Paul and Barnabas who fled from Iconium went to Lystra to preach the Gospel. There was a cripple there who could not use his feet from birth. Seeing that this man had faith, Paul said to him: “Stand upright on your feet.” The cripple sprang up and walked. Truly speaking, as Jesus taught us, “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:20)

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When we fast, we involve our whole body in prayer. Fasting helps us to silence the noises around us and feel the real hunger of our souls which is the hunger for God. When we fast, we face our fears, we realize we can survive without certain things, and we become aware of the inner power that we possess over food, luxury, or that which we had depended on for so long.

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It is not possible for us to understand everything about God. Like the Holy Eucharist, there are still so many things about God that remain mysteries to us. No matter how high the temptation may be for you to walk away from God, let us remember that the best is yet to come. God has not changed and will never change a bit. Just hold on. Don’t quit on God. For his steadfastness to endure when he didn’t understand, Peter would go on to become a great instrument in God’s hands.

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Stephen had the right attitude to Christianity. He was prepared to deny himself and carry his cross after Jesus. He was not simply there for material prosperity, he did not set out to work for bread that perishes. He set his gaze on heaven. Stephen had the chance to compromise, he had the chance to deny Jesus or run for his life but he stood his ground to the end. Do not only ask what God is doing for you but also ask what you are doing for God.

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Do you feel like abandoning your faith because it has become too difficult for you to continue practicing Christian virtues (keeping the commandments of God)? Reflect on St. Paul’s words in today’s second reading. Jesus obeyed even to the point of accepting death but today, the name of Jesus is above every name in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess and Jesus Christ is God. Obedience to God might be difficult but the reward is worth more than all the sacrifices.

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Luke tells us that Jesus told a “parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” (Luke 18:9) One of the symptoms of pride is trusting in ourselves rather than in God, forgetting that our righteousness is a product of grace, not personal efforts.

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Like the children of Israel who called out to God in prayer when they were suffering in the hands of the Egyptians, the key to fighting sin is prayer. Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8). If asking has to do with praying, seeking has to do with making efforts. Yes, God is interested in the efforts you are making

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Prayer is a dialogue, it is only complete when we can listen and hear from God after we have spoken to Him. Prayer teaches us obedience. God says: “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to Him.” The more prayerful we become, the more we are most likely enabled to obey the commandments of God.

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The Israelites allowed their hunger to get into them. They said they wished they had died in the hands of the Egyptians. They quickly forgot what God had done for them in the past. When we pray, it is important to remind ourselves of what God has done, Jesus taught us to start our prayer with praise.

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Prayer is not just about asking, it also involves doing. Jesus makes clear the point: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

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