September 1996


The Word of Life, taken from Scripture, is offered each month as a guide and inspiration for daily living.


"If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:19-20)


It seems to me that this is one of those expressions of Jesus which most fills 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:


"If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"


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. What matters to Jesus is not so much the number of those praying but the fact that they are together.

In the Judaic tradition, as you may be aware, it was well known that God does not ignore prayer offered together, but here Jesus is speaking of something else. He says, he wants them united. He puts the emphasis on their being of one accord, on their being unanimous; he wants them to be of one vioce.

This means, of course, that they must agree on what to ask, but most of all it means that their request must be based on the on the fact that their hearts are of one accord. In effect, Jesus is affirming that the practice of mutual love is the prerequisite for obtaining what we ask for in prayer.


"If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"


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?

In the other hand, what we ask for together is certainly less tainted with personal interest, for when we are with others we are more inclined to be open to their needs and to 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 prayers to be answered, it is best to follow exactly what Jesus says.


"If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"


Jesus himself tells us the secret for the success of this prayer. It is contained in the words, "gathered together 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. It is Jesus himself - present wherever mutual love unites people's hearts - who asks the Father for the graces we are requesting. How could the Father possibly not listen to Jesus? The Father and Jesus are one.

Isn't this magnificent? Doesn't it inspire you with trust and confidence?


"If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"


At this point you are probably interested in knowing what Jesus wants you to pray for. He 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 to which you belong, your country, and the world around you are all 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 a manner that merits the presence of Jesus among you. Then, ask. Ask as much as you can. Ask during a liturgical celebration. Ask anywhere. Ask before making a decision. Ask anything, whatever.

Above all, do not act in such a way as to disappoint Jesus with your indifference, after he has given you such an opportunity. Lives supported by prayer of this kind are bound to make the world a much happier place where people will smile more, the sick will have hope, children will be better protected as they grow up. Families will have greater harmony, and today's difficult problems will be dealt with successfully in the intimacy of each home...and the ultimate reward will be in heaven, because praying for the needs of the living and the dead is also one of the works of mercy on the basis of which we will be judged at the end of our lives.


Chiara Lubich