There is something I find refreshing about Augustine’s Homilies on the First Epistle of John, something which for me is liberating. One of those things is the bold Scriptural connections Augustine makes and the clarity of his statements. For example, when 1 John 3:21-22 says we can ask God for things in prayer and know that God will hear and answer, Augustine boldly uses Paul’s cry to be rid of his “thorn in the flesh,” and Jesus’ cry to “have this cup taken from me,” as examples of unanswered prayer. “So,” Augustine asks, “which prayers does God always answer?”
He then asserts,
We ought to understand that though God gives not to our will, God does give for our salvation.
Or as he puts it later,
God does not attend to you for your will, but God does attend to you for your healing.
Recalling the main message throughout 1 John that God is Love, and that we are called to love one another, Augustine goes on to say to his congregation,
Set your minds at rest: let love ask, and the ears of God are there.
I am not sure that Augustine, or anyone, can truly explain answered, or unanswered, prayer. But I admire the boldness of Augustine, and the singular clarity of his explanations. It has once again made me ponder and think about my relationships, about the focus of my prayers, and about my dialogue with the Unseen God. May you, in your prayers this week, have an awareness of letting “love ask,” and a sense of the listening ear of the One who loves you so much.
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