When disciples asked Jesus how to pray in today’s Gospel, He teaches them the prayer that Christians everywhere recognize as the “Our Father” or “The Lord’s Prayer.” The very first word of the prayer, “our,” reminds us that God is father to all people making every human person a sister or brother who deserves our kindness and respect. More importantly, Jesus’ instruction helps the disciples (and us) to grow in proper relationship with God who is a caring and personal father, not an angry legalist. Jesus reveals the Father as the perfect father: always loving, always merciful, always receptive, always wanting what is best for us, always patient, and always ready to give us another chance. The Our Father is a prayer of trust because God who loves us will give us exactly the good that we need today: our daily bread. And the Our Father boldly asks God to fulfill his plan among us, to forgive us for the times we put our plans ahead of his, and to be as generous as He is by forgiving others. What a great prayer!
As Catholics, we have many prayers like the Our Father that we know by rote. Those prayers are always welcomed by God. They serve us especially well when we have trouble expressing our thoughts, but God still wants to know what is on our minds. He wants to have us talk with him about all the things that are important to us.
To pray, Jesus suggests going to your room or a quiet place where you can talk to him using your own words and by listening. Tell him about what is going on in your life. It’s OK to be blunt – he can take it! Talking to Jesus in prayer may at first seem one-sided, but it becomes conversational when you take time to listen. Quiet yourself and relax. Try to clear your mind about what you need to do next. It’s impossible to turn off your thoughts, but try to be aware of God’s presence in your heart. It is there that His wisdom and love will penetrate your thoughts and attitudes to help you see through His eyes. Little by little, learning to listen to Him will not only become easier, you will find yourself wanting to spend more time with Him!
Real prayer takes time. You need to set aside at least 20 minutes a day to pray. I hear you thinking: “Oh yea, where am I going to find an extra 20 minutes a day?” At first this discipline may seem hard, but it will soon become part of your daily routine. I pray every morning after getting dressed and before eating breakfast. I’ve done this for so long that if I don’t pray, then my whole day is off. Establish a prayer routine for yourself. And if you have trouble, do as the disciples did by saying, “Jesus, teach me to pray.”
Grace and Peace,
Dcn. Tom Dubois