It seems to me this is one of those expressions of Jesus that fill our hearts with joy. Indeed, how many needs there are in life that we do not know how to fulfill, and how many good and legitimate desires there are that we cannot satisfy!
You may be firmly convinced that only a direct intervention from on high, a grace from heaven, could grant you whatever you are longing for with all your heart. And here are Jesus’ words so full of hope and promise and spoken with such clarity that they leave no room for doubt.
You have probably noticed that in the Gospels Jesus frequently urges us to pray, and he also teaches us how to obtain what we ask for. But the prayer we are considering here is truly unique, because in order for it to be answered, it must be offered by at least two persons, that is, by a community. Jesus says: “If two of you …” Two is the smallest number that can constitute a community. What matters to Jesus is not so much the number of those praying, but that they are praying together.
In the Judaic tradition, as you may be aware, it was well known that God does not ignore prayers offered together, but here Jesus is speaking of something else. Note that he says, “If two of you agree …” He wants at least two persons, but more importantly, he wants them united. He puts the emphasis on their being of one accord, on their unanimity; he wants them to be of one voice.
In effect, Jesus is affirming that the practice of mutual love is the prerequisite for obtaining what we ask for in prayer.
You might wonder why prayers offered in unity are more pleasing to the Father.
The reason is that such prayers have been purified. For isn’t it true that our individual prayers are often reduced to little more than a series of selfish requests that remind us of beggars addressing a king rather than of children speaking to their father?
On the other hand, what we ask together is certainly less tainted with personal interests, for when we are with others we are more inclined to be open to their needs and share their concerns. Moreover, two or three persons striving to be of one accord are much more likely to have a better understanding of what to ask of the Father.
Therefore, if we want our prayer to be answered, it is best to follow exactly what Jesus says.
Jesus himself tells us the secret for the success of this prayer. It is contained in the words, “gathered in my name.” When we are united in this way, he is present among us, and whatever we ask together with him we are much more likely to receive. For it is Jesus himself — who is present wherever mutual love unites people’s hearts — who asks the Father with us for the grace we are requesting. How could the Father possibly not listen to Jesus? The Father and Jesus Christ are one.
Isn’t this magnificent? Doesn’t it inspire you with trust and confidence?
At this point you are probably interested in knowing what Jesus wants you to pray for. He himself makes it very clear: “anything.” He sets no limits.
From now on, then, why not make this type of prayer a part of your everyday life. Perhaps you, your family, your friends, the organizations you belong to, your country, and the world around you, are lacking many things simply because you have never asked for them.
Get together with the members of your family, with those who understand your ideas or share your ideals. Declare your readiness to love one another as the Gospel commands, so that you will be united in such a way as to merit the presence of Jesus among you — and then ask. Ask as much as you can. Ask during the liturgy. Ask in church. Ask anywhere. Ask before making a decision. Ask anything.
Above all, do not act in such a way as to disappoint Jesus with your carelessness, after he has given you such an opportunity.
The world would be a place where people will smile more, the sick will have hope, children will be more protected as they are growing up, families will live in greater harmony, and today’s most difficult problems will be dealt with successfully in the intimacy of each home …
And the ultimate reward will be heaven, because praying for the needs of the living and the dead is also one of the works of mercy that we will be judged by at the end of our lives.
Each month a Scripture passage is offered as a guide and inspiration for daily living. This commentary, translated into 96 different languages and dialects, reaches several million people worldwide through print, radio, television and the Internet. Ever since the Focolare’s beginnings, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her commentaries each month. This one, addressed to a mainly Christian audience, was originally published in September 1981.
This monthly leaflet is a supplement to Living City, the Focolare magazine (livingcitymagazine.com). People’s life experiences as they put the monthly sentence into practice can be read in Living City, in the publication “Called to Be Community: A Guide to Living a Spirituality of Communion,” or in books published by New City Press (newcitypress.com).
For information and to subscribe to this leaflet or to the magazine, write to: Living City, 202 Comforter Blvd, Hyde Park, New York 12538; tel: 845-229-0496; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit focolare.org (international); focolare.us (U.S.).
© 2014 by Living City of the Focolare Movement, Inc.
Read more on this topic:
• Lubich, Chiara. “If we are united, Jesus is among us,” Essential Writings. New City Press, Hyde Park, NY, 2007, p. 102.
• Povilus, Judith. United in His Name: Jesus in the Midst in the Experience and Thought of Chiara Lubich. New City Press, Hyde Park, NY, 1992.
• Zamboni, Doriana (ed.). Glimpses of Gospel Life. New City Press, Hyde Park, NY, 2004.
“Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray” (Sir 28:2).