The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Luke 9:18-22....I find it fascinating that in Luke's rendering of this story, Jesus' questions to his disciples arise out of prayer. And two very important questions they are: "Who do the crowds say that I am?" and "Who do you say that I am?"
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’ He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
What questions arise out of our hearts as we pray? Perhaps the most important questions that may arise out of prayer are: "God, who do you want me to be?" and "God, what do you want me to do?"
Everything about Jesus' prayer life suggests that prayer is meant to be a dialogue with God in which we not only speak to God, and perhaps ask questions, but also, most importantly, we need to listen to what God might say to us and wish to speak through us.
"Who do the crowds say that I am?" is an easy question to answer. It is as easy as saying, "I was raised a Presbyterian, or a Catholic, or an atheist." The harder question to answer is: "Who do you say I am?" How do we answer that question in a most personal way, without being dictated to or influenced by the responses of others? Answering that second question is hard because if we give the answer that Peter gave ("You are the Messiah of God."), that answer will require a commitment of our hearts and lives to follow Jesus. This is to be expected as part of the dialogue of prayer.
What is transpiring in your dialogue with God today?