Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time Father Walter Schu, LC
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 others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you love me, that you are close by my side, and that you will be walking with me throughout this day. I trust in you, Lord. I trust you more than I trust myself, because you are infinitely good and all powerful. I love you, Jesus. I love you because you died on the cross for me, to save me.
Petition: Lord, teach me to pray.
1. Absolute Trust in God's Providence: "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Christ's words are an inexhaustible source of consolation and hope as they encourage us to turn constantly to our Father in prayer. "True piety is not so much a matter of the amount of words as of the frequency and the love with which a Christian turns toward God in all the events, great or small, of his day" (St. Matthew, The Navarre Bible, p. 72). But if our Father already knows our needs, why should we even present them to him in prayer? St. Augustine assures us that while we pray, God is molding our heart and soul so that we will be prepared to receive the good things he desires to give us in answer to our prayers.
2. The Perfect Prayer: St. Augustine affirms that the Lord's Prayer is so perfect that it sums up in a few words everything man needs to ask God for (cf. Sermon, 56). "It is usually seen as being made up of an invocation and seven petitions — three to do with praise of God and four with the needs of men" (St. Matthew, The Navarre Bible, p. 72). The first two petitions, that God's name be sanctified among all people, and that his Kingdom may come, should touch us in the depth of our being. We are called to be apostles of that Kingdom, to spread love for Christ among our fellow men. Our apostolic zeal should be enkindled each time we pronounce those words of the Lord's Prayer. Asking for God's will to be done means that we seek to conform ourselves with his will in all of our thoughts and actions.
3. Our Spiritual and Human Needs: "Give us this day our daily bread." Even though we work to earn our daily bread with the sweat of our brow, it is still a gift from God. We ask only for what we need each day. The Church Fathers also see in this petition a request for the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. We strive to live so as to be worthy to receive the Eucharist each day. Christ then instructs us that when we ask God for forgiveness, we, too, must be willing to forgive others in the same way we ourselves are forgiven by our Father. Do I live this teaching fully in my life as a follower of Christ? Finally, we ask to be freed from temptation that is beyond our strength, and to be delivered from evil — or the Evil One. The Father is much more powerful than any temptation the devil can send against us. With what confidence and trust does Christ ask us to conclude the "Our Father!"
Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for teaching us how to pray. Thank you for the confidence and trust in our Father that your words inspire. Help me, so that the words of your own prayer may always be on my lips and in my heart.
Resolution: I will pray the "Our Father" as a colloquy with God at different moments during the day.