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Children of the Father
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray in these moments of quiet I have set aside.
- How to Pray: Our Father knows what we need before you ask him. An example of this wonderful reality is the story of Martha in the Gospel of Luke (10:38-42). Martha asked Jesus to make her sister help her. Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things….” Martha shared only one concern, but Jesus acknowledged there were more worries on her heart. We might ask ourselves, “God knows everything; if God is all good, why does he not just solve our problems before we ask him?” The answer can be found in the example of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). When Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he sank. We are to pray asking for what we need, because it is too easy to forget that all we need is found in and given to us by God. To believe we are in control can lead to pride. To believe there is no one in control leads to despair. To believe God is in control of all our needs leads to hope and life eternal.
- Thy Kingdom Come: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” The line from the Coldplay song “Vida la Vida,” “I sweep the streets I used to own,” gives a poetic explanation of the consequence of original sin. Adam and Eve were given dominion over creation. They were sharers with the Divine Creator, made in his image and likeness. They lost the privilege to “own the streets they swept.” When we pray the Our Father, we dare to ask God to restore his Kingdom on earth, which we lost by disobeying his will. Jesus told us how to begin to rebuild it: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He told us we would be rewarded for doing so: “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:30-33).
- Food for the Journey: “Give us this day our daily bread”—why not “Give us this day our bread” or “Give us our daily bread”? Jesus doubly emphasizes our daily need for nourishment, both physical and spiritual. Though humans can go many days without eating food and many years without faith in God, it results in malnutrition of body and soul, depleting a person of the life God desires for us. The Church provides times of fasting from food, such as Advent, Lent, and Fridays, so we have temporary opportunities to feel the ache from lack of nourishment. Hunger pangs hit our stomach and serve as an uncomfortable reminder that life without God’s daily providence is impossible.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you teach us how to pray to our Father so we may join in your communion with him as God. You go to such lengths to remind us we have a Father and we are always provided for. Thank you, Jesus!
Resolution: Lord, by your grace tomorrow (Friday), I will fast from at least one meal as a reminder of your providence in my life.
For Further Reflection: Read and meditate on Psalm 23 as another reminder of God’s providence.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.