Prayer that Pierces Clouds

Prayer that Pierces Clouds

BY ERIC CLAYTON | October 24, 2022

Sunday’s Readings

This past weekend, members of the Ignatian Family gathered in Washington, D.C., to learn, pray, and advocate on some of the most pressing justice issues affecting our communities today. Buoyed by such contagious energy, it’s not hard to look at the road ahead—the many needs of our global family—and feel ready, eager to meet these needs head-on.

And yet, in our work for justice, we would do well to heed Paul’s letter to Timothy: The race is long, and we have a long way yet to go. How many of us feel “poured out like a libation,” our energy sapped, our cups running on empty? As we engage the real needs of real people in our everyday lives against the backdrop of a changing climate, global warfare, oppression, discrimination, and with so many families forced to flee their homes as a result, we may quickly see our energy drain. 

So, what do we do? It’s tempting to be like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. We raise our hands to the sky, drawing attention to ourselves, lamenting the cascade of injustices all around us. We shout and shake our heads and throw up our fists in righteous anger—at God, at those who oppress others, at systems that seem beyond our control. Our anger—unlike the Pharisee’s self-righteousness—is justified. And at times, a prophet needs to speak up, speak loudly, demand attention. 

But if all we do is scream and shout, we quickly run out of energy. We pour ourselves out too quickly, too aggressively, and too completely. 

The solution is to pay equal attention to the quiet work of justice, the persistent prayer and quiet letter-writing. The rallying of friends in intimate conversations and the gentle prodding of family members to see things anew. Those quiet, perhaps unnoticed acts of justice and peace and resistance reflect our faith in our God who is justice, “who knows no favorites… [and] hears the cry of the oppressed.” 

Our prayer, this prayer, will “pierce the clouds…and the Lord will not delay.”

6 replies
  1. Diane Marcil
    Diane Marcil says:

    “The quiet work of justice “…. At 85, I often feel badly that I am no longer able to be as active in social justice issues as I once was . A new phase begins with the “quiet work of justice “.

  2. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Persistence in prayer is a need I have to pray for all the acts of justice that must be accomplished in His name. When I think of the miracles He preformed and the resistance of the crowd because it was the wrong day, the sabbath. and yet He continued in the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit. May I have that courage to work on behalf of migrants, the imprisioned, the brokenhearted, those struggling with their faith and all the teachers throughout the world who are trying to bring the word of God to all so that our world may resound with God’s goodness. May our thoughts and words today err on the side of God’s goodness and justice.

  3. Francine Schwarzenberger
    Francine Schwarzenberger says:

    Eric, thank you for this very thoughtful reflection! There are so many social justice issues that demand our attention! I am grateful that there are ways each of us can be engaged, in whatever way possible, though sometimes it seems like the “leak in the dike” keeps getting larger. But hope prevails.

  4. Peter Viskup
    Peter Viskup says:

    ‘quiet letter-writing’ can be the tool of dialogue with people whom I cannot meet.
    There is ongoing ‘fight’ for family and gender ideology pressure in Slovakia. See them as primary causes of the war in Ukraine.
    Writing polite and honest letters to politics is something what can open one’s eyes or dialogue.
    It’s no1 theme of social justice here. The tension is increasing every day…

  5. sonja
    sonja says:

    Behind every act of love is prayer. Since volunteering with the Missionaries of Charityover thirty years ago and learning that every single sister had a partner in prayer. I have made sure I have someone praying for me. I find this helps me to still have faith during times of seeming impossible obstacles. And doors open without burnout. We are a team. We are not meant to live or work alone. But small individual actions done with great love do make a difference. Peace in our world depends on peace reigning in our hearts. And ripples of compassion do make a difference.

  6. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Ora et Labora is a handy toolkit. Eric Clayton has offered techniques of counterattack against injustices, oppression, and exploitation – by suggesting aerial and horizontal initiatives. Continuous waves of fervent prayers to pierce the clouds and person to person sensitizing and evangelizing fellow mortals are time tested strategies to achieve the seemingly impossible.


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