Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of our world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 6:7-15
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.”
A Lenten Reflection
Surveys conducted on religion and spirituality have produced interesting results regarding the practice of praying. In one survey, 55% of all respondents indicated that they pray daily, while 21% indicated that they do not pray at all. In another, reasons for praying included to pray for family or friends, for enemies or difficult persons, and to pray in thanksgiving. Respondents also prayed for a sports team to win, for someone to suffer personal misfortune, and to not get caught when speeding.
When we pray and what we pray about reveals much about our notions of God, life, and ourselves. Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered many instances of persons using prayer to justify prejudices, assert arrogance, or seek control. In contrast, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in ways that would open their minds and hearts to what was real and right. Prayer was to be their experience of finding themselves in a life-giving and life-saving relationship with their loving Father and learning how to participate in it.
Author William McGill wrote, “The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” The power of prayer, as with any loving conversation, is that it creates a space in which we can tell and be told the truth, be affirmed as well as admonished, and live with both confidence and humility. The season of Lent is a time for renewing our prayer lives so as to place ourselves more fully in the holy presence of God.
Eternal Father, your son taught us how to pray so that we might know how to live. In this time of Lent, may we find life in the words that he gave us. Guide our thoughts and deeds so that we may do your will and serve you faithfully. Strengthen our character so that we may speak truthfully and act justly. Increase our compassion so that we may seek to listen, to forgive, and to accept forgiveness. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.