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How to Pray
Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
He 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.”
Opening Prayer: Father, teach me to pray just as you taught your disciples. You do not seem to speak as we do—teach me to listen to your word.
- Lord, Teach Us to Pray: Deep down, every heart longs for prayer, which is different from longing to “say prayers.” This “prayer” that we all want is a deep connection with the Father. The disciples must have seen it in Christ. Luke 5:16 says that, as more and more crowds gathered around him, he would “withdraw to desert places to pray.” It must have been a common occurrence for Christ to go missing, only for the disciples to find him lost in prayer with the Father. Until they saw Christ praying, prayer for them was reciting the psalms out loud in the synagogue. Jesus seemed to actually speak to God, as we would in a personal relationship. Unable to contain their curiosity, they mustered up the courage one day after Christ finished praying to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We can make the same request any time we struggle with prayer.
- When You Pray, Say…The disciples probably imagined that Jesus would teach them something revolutionary, or at least new. After all, no one had ever prayed like Christ. But what he said was really nothing new—in fact, it was rather simple. Christ taught them that God is our Father, that God is our dad. No matter what the qualities or failings of our human father are, there will always be a Father who loves us. That is why we can speak to him normally—speak our mind to him. If we need something, we should ask! If we’re worried about something, we should let God know! If we’re happy, God wants to share in it. When we feel awed by beauty or truth, we recognize the handiwork of the Father and praise him. We are sons and daughters of the King.
- Forgive Us Our Sins as We Forgive Others: When we pray the words of the Our Father slowly, thinking about what it says, we might pause when we reach this line. The actions of others can cause deep woundedness, and we know from experience that we can truly forgive only by the grace of God. When we’re struggling to forgive another, one tried and true way to call down the much-needed grace of God is to reflect deeply on how much and how often God has forgiven us. Receiving mercy and showing mercy is a continuous cycle—one leads to the other. So if we have a hard time forgiving, let’s ask God to show us his mercy.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for your love. Make my heart more like yours. Help me forgive my neighbor, remembering that you never cease to forgive me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will slowly and thoughtfully pray a decade of the rosary in honor of Our Lady, meditating especially on the Our Father.
For Further Reflection: Pope Francis has a beautiful book on the Our Father, titled Our Father: Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer.
Written by Brother Riley Connors.