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How to Pray. Really.
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
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 men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, teach me how to pray. I want to recollect myself and become aware of your presence here and of your words for me now.
- Prayer Is Tricky: We can successfully teach even to the smallest child how to pray and might yet fail to explain what prayer is to the smartest person on the planet. It is simple and complicated at the same time, not just for others, but also for us. Prayer is tricky. And it appears that the most difficult part to explain is neither the technique, nor the proper intention, nor the right words. All of that can be learned. No, the trickiest part of prayer is whether there is really someone there who hears it. The hardest part is to be confident or even certain that God is there listening to what I babble, or recite, or ask…
- Prayer Begins with Faith: Before we start talking in our prayer, we must activate and renew our faith in God’s presence and loving interest in our life. This is how an intimate meditation could start each time: “God, I believe that you are with me now; enkindle my faith in your presence and in your fatherly care for me.” When the heart feels the gaze of the Almighty upon it, prayer flows on its own. This is also why children are often better at praying than adults: They usually know how to act in the presence of the Father, trusting and certain of his presence, love, and protection.
- Jesus Teaches Us: In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples how it sounds when God’s sons or daughters talk to their Father. Each phrase of the Our Father pulses with the certainty of God’s presence. And the petitions come alive on our lips when they are fueled by the faith that Jesus revealed to us: God is present, he is our loving Father, he wants our eternal happiness and wholesomeness, and he will give us all that is conducive to our salvation.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord Jesus Christ, you have become man in order to lift us up and bestow on us the identity of being the Father’s beloved sons and daughters in you. I am a child of the loving Father. And I believe that he looks at my soul in this very moment with all his love and fatherly care. Bathed in that light, I now pray: “Our Father…”
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will remind myself consciously of God’s presence and of his loving gaze in the midst of my daily activities.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 257: “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!” God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness,” conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” through “the spirit of sonship.” This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.
written by Fr. Gabriel von Wendt, LC