We don’t often think of tenacity as being a particularly religious quality, but it can be a necessary one. Today’s Mass readings (Esther 4 and Matthew 7. 7–12) provide examples of persistence in prayer, but I think they also teach the importance of tenacity. We make known our need to the Lord, then we act.* Once we have decided on a course of action, we must hold to it otherwise our prayer is an empty babble. We are just saying ‘Lord, Lord’ and not really engaging, either with him or anyone else.

In the monastery, holding to a course of action to which we have committed ourselves (e.g living the monastic life) is usually called perseverance. These days the word can sound a little dull. We persevere against the odds; we stick stolidly to our duty. It is a trifle grim-sounding. Of course, to those of us trying to do the persevering it isn’t grim at all (well, only occasionally). Substitute the word tenacity for perseverance and we have something we can literally get our teeth into. It all becomes much more exciting — a challenge, an opportunity.

Esther’s prayer led her to courageous action; Jesus’ teaching on prayer emphasises the need for persistence and trust. In other words, whatever resolution we are led to make in prayer has to have effect in our lives. I wonder how we shall measure up to that today?

* I am speaking here of intercessory prayer.


6 thoughts on “Tenacity”

  1. According to St Benedict is this one of five, or one of seven, types of prayer? Would it be possible to give me a list, or an internet reference?

  2. Thank you for once again providing the link to prayer. Just re-read it.

    On intercessory prayer and course of action, what advice do you have on discerning whether or not we’ve chosen correctly? There have been times when I’ve thought surely I was on the right track, other times I’ve simply given up, spiritually and emotionally exhausted, handing the situation over in its entirety to God to “fix” – and after years of struggle, this has been when He’s taken immediate action, and by that there has been no doubt the hand of God has been involved. Whether taking action or waiting patiently, what should we be looking for?

    • Discernment is a tricky business and I hesitate to pronounce. On the whole, I’ve found, as you have, that turning everything over to God is usually the best plan; but it can help to discuss matters with someone we know to be wise and prudent. I think peace is an important element in any decision-making. If we can be at peace about something, even though we find it painful, I think that usually indicates that the Lord is in the midst of our pain and confusion.

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