Today’s gospel reading was from Matthew 6:7-15, where Jesus tells us how to pray; giving us “the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father”. I would have liked to be a “fly on the wall” when Jesus spent the many nights in prayer with his heavenly Father. What a deep and personal and loving dialogue it must have been. Certainly we know the Father encouraged Jesus (“this is my beloved son in who I am well pleased). It was true communication… back and forth, sharing their thoughts… Jesus bouncing things off the father…”Father I’m thinking of these 12 men as my apostles.” I would guess that Jesus shared his concerns and questions about many things and received the Father’s wise and compassionate responses. Perhaps he shared his fears and disappointments. Remember that Jesus was like us in everything but sin. (Heb. 4:15)
One of the questions we often share about in my men’s group is “how’s your prayer going?” We know prayer is important and we want to be accountable. These men have had consistent prayer for many, many years. While prayer is a battle, we have generally kept it as a top priority. What can be more of a challenge is “the quality of our prayer”… it’s great to spend time in prayer, but we want to have good and effective prayer, not just “put our time in”.
Our pastor gave a wonderful homily on prayer today. He reminded us that prayer is a dialogue, a two way conversation, not a monologue….. I speak to the Lord and share my heart and listen as the Lord speaks to me and shares his heart. This was a good reminder as too often I can spend my time of prayer monopolizing the conversation; sometimes I’m afraid of what the Lord might say to me. In truth I’m spending precious time with my dearest friend who loves me so completely and wants to help me with every challenge I have. God is my father…my loving and dearest father, who has answers to my every need.
A meditation by Sr. Joan Chittister reminded me of other key aspects of prayer. She mentioned that “saying prayers doesn’t make you prayerful. Prayerfulness is the capacity to walk in touch with God through everything in life. It is the internal awareness that God is with me— now, here, in this situation, always; it is an awareness of the continuing presence of God…. seeing God everywhere, talking to God everywhere, submitting my uncertainties to the scrutiny of the eye of God… no matter the problem, I can walk through it unharmed because God is with me.” (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB , “The Breath of the Soul”)
There is so much to ponder. When we pause in the presence of the Lord, we can have that rich dialogue. It may be about the things of our life, about those who have loved us throughout our lives, about our challenges, but it will always be about the greatness of Our Father who art in heaven…. hallowed be thy name. And that is such good news.
P.S. I’m writing this BLOG on June 16th, my mother’s birthday. She passed into her new life 26 years ago. I was 49 years old (now 75), our baby was 4 years old (she just had her second child), our first grandchild had just been born (we now have 41)…. so much has changed. “Truly the days are long, but the years are short”. I still miss her and look forward to seeing her again.