Tuesday, October 09, 2018

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” by Colleen O’Sullivan

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” by Colleen O’Sullivan

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."  He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." (Luke 11:1-4)

Lord help me to share what’s in my heart with you and to have inner quiet in which to hear your voice.

Years ago, my spiritual director made the comment that we Catholics are great at saying prayers but not so great at actually praying.  I had to stop and think about that for a while.  Prayer is our conversation with God.  It involves sharing from our hearts and listening for what God might have to say to us in return.

In today’s Gospel reading, the disciples ask Jesus if he will teach them to pray.  Jesus’ response isn’t so much to set forth another prayer we can say as it is to give us guidelines to keep in mind as we talk with God.

Whatever our image of God – Father, Mother, or something else – we are addressing the One who created each and every one of us when we pray.  And if God is my Creator as well as yours, that makes us brothers and sisters without regard to our place of birth, skin color, language, religious persuasion, etc.  We’re all in this together.  If we are sincere in regarding God as the one who created us in God’s image, it would be difficult for prejudice or racism to be present in genuine prayer.  We are all made in God’s image. 

Jesus reminds us that God is to be revered.  God is to be praised.  God’s name is holy and above everything else in all creation.  We wouldn’t always get that impression by listening to the conversations around us, but our prayer can reflect our awareness of God’s holiness.

As people of the Kingdom, we are living between the now and the not yet.  The Kingdom of God is in our midst and in our hearts, but it isn’t yet fully realized, and that is why Jesus asks us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come.   Some days the Kingdom seems further away than others.

When we pray, we often make requests of God.  Jesus says, keep it simple.  Just pray for what we need to make it through the day.  No more, no less.  Don’t confuse our wants with our needs.

Jesus advises the disciples to pray for forgiveness for their sins as we forgive others.  That gives us pause for thought that in God’s eyes the two are integrally joined together.

Finally, Jesus says to pray that we don’t get taken in by any of the many siren songs echoing all around us lest we find ourselves shipwrecked and washed up on some shore other than God’s.

Our Lord’s words to his closest friends are an invitation to us to examine our own prayer lives.  When we pray, do we incorporate the things Jesus says are important?   If not, how could we do that?

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