June 18, 2015

Gospel MT 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

The Our Father has become the most recognized and recited prayer in the Christian world. And, rightfully so, as it is the perfect prayer given to us by Christ himself.
But, Jesus said to his disciples, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”
I believe Jesus taught the disciples the “Our Father” as an example, and that rather than simply reciting a known prayer, we should instead, look into our hearts and in our own words, pour out our fears, our sorrows, our regrets, and our gratitude to Our Father who loves us.
Like a child reaching out to it’s parent, we should pray most fervently and sincerely from our pain, desperation, and our love.
I see examples of God’s response to such prayer in scripture and in life.
When Peter began to sink while walking on the water, his prayer was one of fear, “Lord, save me.” Immediately, Jesus took his hand and saved him.
When I finally “hit bottom” after thirty years of drinking, I cried out in desperation, “Lord, help me.” Immediately, God led me to Alcoholic’s Anonymous and my journey back to him began.
When my good friend Father Peter was trying to discern his vocation, he prayed from deep within his heart, “I love you Lord and want to be with you and serve you.” Not long afterwards he felt “a certainty” and applied for the priesthood.
I pray the Our Father several times each day, at Mass, with my community and during private prayer.
But, when by myself at night, I look deep within my heart and in my own words, pour out my love and troubles to Our Father.
“And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness.” Joel 2:13