This Sunday, Jesus teaches us how to pray (Luke 11:1-13). The words of the Lord’s Prayer, or the “Our Father,” are abridged in Saint Luke’s Gospel – the fuller version that we’re most familiar with is in Matthew 6:9-13. In both versions, God gives us His own instructions on prayer. Each phrase is a fountain of wisdom that’s worth studying and contemplating as God shows us how to approach Him and be in communion with Him (the one thing needed). Jesus teaches us to pray in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity: to God the Father, through God the Son and in God the Holy Spirit. He teaches us to be persistent in prayer because persistence gives God the opportunity to act in our lives, as our desires get more in synch with God. Jesus also teaches us to be confident in prayer, for God is our Father – and if earthly fathers know how to be generous and wise with their children, we can rest assured that God is much more like that with us.
When we begin to understand Christian prayer and give it its proper place in our lives – the first place – we become much more stable, joyful and energetic disciples of Christ. As Jesus reminded us last week regarding Martha and Mary, prayer is the better part of communion with Him (the other part is our works/actions done in His Name). One of the major problems with today’s secular culture is that it is out of balance. In the past, before electricity and internal combustion engines, people followed a more natural rhythm of life. Night and day actually mattered! It took time to communicate and to travel, so there was more time to reflect on life’s mysteries and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Our scientific and technological advances have altered all that. Now it’s possible to live at a reckless pace and become enslaved to our own to-do lists and busy-ness, often resulting in a plague of stress and depression. To counteract this tendency, we need to consciously choose to live a balanced life of prayer, first and foremost, and then work and recreation.
God gives us the gift of Christian prayer to help us keep the balance in our life. Prayer is communion with God, the raising of one’s mind and heart to God and asking good things of God (Section 4 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is all on prayer). The Holy Spirit enables us to pray (Romans 8) – for He knows that a confident, persistent, personal conversation with our Lord keeps us focused on our most important relationship: with Him, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whenever we turn to God in prayer, we put our minds and hearts in contact with the very source of all life, beauty, and truth – and He refreshes our soul. When stress, discouragement and frustration affect us, we can respond with prayer, seeking God’s help, His mercy, peace and strength. Every day, may we thank the Lord for the gift of prayer, consciously spending time with God who is with us always (Matthew 28:20), making a commitment to prayer each morning and evening (one “Our Father” takes 20 seconds to pray). If we say that we don’t have time to pray, let’s heed the words of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, that we don’t have time not to pray.
With peace and prayers in Christ,