When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back, and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.  (Lk 14:12-14)

The idea of inviting anyone for a meal seems quite difficult at the moment!   Whereas we used to plan to invite people regularly, probably at least a couple of times a month, we now have the joy of romantic meals for two every day!  I guess our list of proposed dinner guests will be quite long by the time this lockdown is completely lifted. 
 
But here’s a thought:   when you pray, who gets invited to your ‘prayer banquet’?   Who figures most regularly among those you bring before the Lord?   If you’re anything like me it’s probably your family, those nearest and dearest to you.   You know them best, you know their needs, you want to see them enjoying a happy and fulfilled life; you know when they are going through difficulties and just what to pray for.  And after all, if you don’t pray for them, who will?   Certainly in our prayer times Muriel and I pray constantly, repeatedly, for those we love the most.    And of course it is absolutely right that we pray for our own families, and support them in practical and spiritual ways whenever we can. 
 
In the above extract, Jesus seems to challenge us to lift up our horizons:  don’t just think of those closest to you, but remember the underprivileged, those who have no way of providing for themselves, those in fact for whom Jesus Himself has huge compassion.  And most of us probably do respond to need when it’s presented to us, giving to some of the many charities that reach out to the most needy.
 
Is that enough?   Or should we invite more of those people to our personal ‘prayer banquet?’  Who are the poor, blind, lame and crippled in your world?  What would your prayer time look like if you were to use the ‘International’ section of the news as a prayer guide?   How much of the world would be changed if we, the church, were to pray as if we believed what we say we believe about the power of prayer?
 
Maybe one of the things we can do out of this ‘new world’ is to revise our prayer habits.   After all, ‘You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it’ (Jn 14:14).    Shall we give it a try?

Muriel adds:    It’s a bit of a risk to invite a stranger into your life.  But I’ve found that whenever I’ve taken that risk, I have received back far more than I’ve given – love, care, friendship, support – so that I became richer, not poorer.

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Chartwell Road,
Swindon SN25 2EX
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