October 5, 2016 - Prayer Has an Important Place in Our Continuing Conversion
Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time Father James Swanson, LC
Jesus 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.
Petition: Lord, teach me through the "Our Father" to pray more deeply.
1. Traditional Prayers Teach Us the Correct Attitudes to Have towards God: What better prayer could we devise than a prayer using the very words Jesus taught us here? Yet the "Our Father" is a traditional prayer, a prayer with set words, prone to be recited merely by rote. But in fact, traditional prayers are an invitation to meditate, set up in a way that appeals to beginners. In the "Our Father", as in all traditional prayers, we repeat phrases that express the essence of a correct relationship with God. Whether we already hold these attitudes in our heart or not, the beauty of traditional prayers is not what we say, but how we say it. If we pray these words, trying to make them our own, conforming our heart to the attitudes they express, then little by little we will form a Christian heart, a heart that loves the way it should.
2. Traditional Prayers Can Change My Heart and Draw It to God: When I first turned to the Lord, I had a lot to work on. Most people do. I didn't love the way I should have. I was flawed in many other ways. One of the things that helped me was the "Our Father" as well as other traditional prayers. When we first come to the Lord, we don't know how Christians should think, what attitudes a Christian should hold. When we pray the "Our Father" from the heart, it helps our heart to change, to become more Christ-like. It takes only a moment to pray an "Our Father", but from time to time, we should meditate on the words. Say each phrase and repeat it, not moving on to the next phrase until we feel that we have really gotten to the bottom of what it is saying.
3 Traditional Prayers Fight Off the Attitudes of the World: Our conversion to Christ is a change of attitudes from those of the world to those of a Christian. Every day, the world proposes its attitudes as something good that should be lived. But often what the world proposes as good is actually harmful to us. How do we resist? By constantly repeating to myself and meditating on Christian attitudes. This is what can happen in using traditional prayers. It is a way of helping our heart understand and embrace the Christianity we profess. The Christian who disdains traditional prayers is rejecting a powerful tool of conversion.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, too often I rattle off my prayers without thinking about the attitudes they contain. I want to get the full benefit of all the prayers I say every day. I want to pray these prayers more often, especially the "Our Father," since it is the prayer that you, yourself, taught me.
Resolution: Today I will pray my traditional prayers with special attention and with the conviction that they will instruct me and change me in a way that leads me closer to God.