Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Praying straight from the heart (Tuesday, 1st Week of Lent, Mt. 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.”

* * * * * * * *

Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, and teaches them to call God, their “Father”, just as he calls him his “Father” as well. He reminds them of the importance of keeping their prayer sincere and straight to the point, not like the babbling of pagans who used to multiply words in the belief that if the gods got tired of them, they would finally grant the requests made.

God for Jesus is a loving Father who knows everything we need even before we ask them. The care that God has for the world and for us his sons and daughters is so great that we need not use flowery words in talking to him. There are times when because we think we have to use eloquent words in addressing God, and because we simply cannot find the right words, we choose not to talk to him at all. Our prayer becomes a choice between elaborate ritual or nothing at all.

The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples stands in between these two, and goes straight to the heart of the matter. God is a loving Father, and we as sons and daughters should not hesitate to talk to him straight from our hearts.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)