Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This Is How You Are To Pray

Today’s First Reading is from Isaiah (55:10-11).

God says: I don’t think the way you think. I don’t work the way you work.
The way I work is a lot more effective than the way you work,
and the way I think is far beyond the way you think.
The rain and the snow drop from the sky,
and they don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth.
They do their work, making flowers grow and blossom,
producing seed for the farmers, and food for the hungry.

The words that I have spoken will not come back without doing the work I’ve sent them to do, and completing the purpose for which I sent them.

Today’s Gospel is from Matthew (6:7-15)

Jesus said to his disciples: When you pray don’t babble like the pagans,
who think that the more words they say, the better they’ll be heard.
You don’t need to imitate them.
Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask.

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;
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us know into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Then he said: If you forgive other people for the wrong they’ve done to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father won’t forgive you.

Words, words, words! In Isaiah, God says, “The words I’ve spoken won’t come back until they’ve done what I wan them to do.” During this Lenten season we really need to pay close attention to hear the word of God. We must hear the word of God if it is to achieve his purpose. We must learn to block out all of the static – the noise we hear from the world, the flesh and the devil, competing for our attention. We must choose our own words of prayer carefully. It does not good, as Matthew reminds us, to babble like the pagans, who seem to think God rewards them for the number of words they use in their prayers.

Truth told, the quieter we are, the more clearly we’ll hear God’s message. We must listen, and wait for God to speak.

That’s what Matthew tells us in that passage of the Gospel where Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray. What words could we possibly choose that match – or even come close – to the words of the Master himself.

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