“Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17: 5).
The prayer of the apostles to Jesus is indeed the prayer of every Christian. Even when we do not ask for it directly, each time we turn to God in prayer, we are directly or indirectly asking for our faith in Him through His Son Jesus Christ to be increased, restored and strengthened. Faith needs a daily supplement to be nourished and nurtured. It is beautiful to see faith as a journey as Pope Francis aptly describes it when he addressed the Jesuits students from Italy and Albania (June 7, 2019):
The life of faith is a journey. Journeying is an art because if we're always in a hurry, we get tired and don't arrive at our journey's goal. If we stop, we don't go forward and we also miss the goal. Journeying is precisely the art of looking toward the horizon, thinking where I want to go but also enduring the fatigue of the journey, which is sometimes difficult. … There are dark days, even days when we fail, even days when we fall … but always think of this: Don't be afraid of failures. Don't be afraid of falling. What matters in the art of journeying isn't not falling but not staying down. Get up right away and continue going forward.
Within this context of faith as a journey, we can clearly understand the need for the request of the apostles in the Gospel of Luke (17: 5), and why we too need to ask the Lord for the same thing today. Faith in God has to be kept alive and active: there are certainly those moments when we are challenged by the circumstances of life and we seem to find no meaning in God, when God seems to be too distant, too silent, too unperturbed and unmoved by our cries and wailing; those are times we need to remember that we are on a journey, and if we must arrive, we have to keep moving at whatever pace our ability allows. Such is the time of patience. For patience is a basic ingredient of faith. A man or woman who cannot wait cannot say he/she has faith. Several times in the Scripture we hear this sounded through: Moses asked the children of Israel to wait courageously for God’s deliverance (Exodus 14: 13); God asked Habakkuk to wait for the fulfilment of the vision even when it would come slowly (Habakkuk 2: 2-3). Faith requires patience.