“God hears me when I pray, God hears me when I pray, out of all the people in this great big world, God hears me God knows my voice, God hears me when I pray.” Carol McClure
Today we reflect on the core aspect of our lives as a Christian people, namely prayer. Early in my priesthood I remember Cardinal Mahoney telling us, “We must be men of prayer.” I can recall from a very small child the first prayers that we are taught. The sign of the Cross, the Glory Be, Our Father and Hail Mary. This were amongst the first of prayers that we told we ought to pray as we grew up.
Today we hear Jesus’ disciples asking Him to teach them to pray. As we see Jesus setting a guide to prayer we realize that the disciples request was not an unusual one, but Jesus’ response is quite new. It was normal practice for disciples of a rabbi to seek his guidance in prayer. Jesus opens his disciples to a new relationship to God. It is a relationship of intimacy where God is called, Abba. This deeply affectionate reference to God opens a new way of entering into a relationship with the Divine, God is a loving Father.
“Abun Dbashmaya” These are the first words in Aramaic of Our Father. It is through Jesus that we can approach God and enter more closely to the One who created us as our Father. This notion of God as Father, Jesus addresses more deeply as to a child requesting something from the Father, namely that that the Father only seeks the good and best for His children, fish not a snake, bread not a stone. God truly seeks to be generous and provide for our every need. Not simply bread as food or sustenance, but rather in our poverty, in our need that God would provide all that we need to bring about blessing, abundance and fulfillment. God fulfills our every need.
Our God who we can now approach as Father, Jesus teaches us is most sacred, “Hallowed be thy name.” In our access to God as Father is also requires us to have a deep understanding of the Holiness and the Sacredness of God and our relationship to Him. This access to the Holy requires something in us a deep understanding of the need for “forgiveness” God gives us all that we need and we must be persons who seek to become reconciled and one with our sisters and brothers through forgiveness. If we are unforgiving we cannot expect to receive all that we need from God. Forgiveness is essential to our faith. As we look at our society and even within our own church, this very core of our faith seems to have been forgotten. Forgiveness is the very core of our identity and existence as Christians. To often are we not only unforgiving, but even more profoundly lacking is a recognition of our deep need for forgiveness. We must know ourselves and the need we have for our Father’s forgiveness. He offers it freely and lovingly through His Son Jesus Christ. It is for this very reason that the Son become one with us to offer us forgiveness to give us access to His Father so that we might share in what He has. Although not co-equal in essence as Jesus is, for He and the Father are One, but Jesus invites us into a share of that union that He has with the Father.
As we reflect this week on not only the our Father, but for me the words of the Apostles become my very words. “Lord teach me to pray” I ask the Father to renew in me not only a spirit of prayer, but to seek to enter into the loving intimate relationship that is only obtained by a total emptying of myself to enter deep poverty of recognizing in the Father the possibility of being loved so much that my fears are dispelled, my desire to be in control of my life is set free and I rely deeply and entirely on God the Father’s desire for me to be united with Him through the forgiveness that comes from Jesus. Jesus offers the possibility of this even deeper relationship with the Father.
In my own prayer I seek His will and reign over my life, my heart and the decisions that I need to make to better and more deeply serve Him. Praying for God’s will is uniquely for the Christian heart that seeks to live for God as Father. For the one who seeks their own will is contrary to God and has no part with Him, for God’s will, reign and direction must be sought by anyone who calls themselves a Christian. We take out the “My and the “I” and we embrace the Father’s Will over our lives. It is only in the place of true surrender to the Father that we can open ourselves to truly living for Him.
I recall conversations with several of my Divine Word brothers. Each calling me more and more to prayer, to be deeply united to the Father and seeking His will, forgiveness and provision over my life. A complete surrender to prayer is the true source of strength and gives the ability to say “Yes” to whatever God asks of us. When the task seems to much, to big or overwhelming, the heart centered on prayer is able to embrace it. Recognizing in our yes to the Father, He has our back, he will direct each step of our lives and lead us into the future full of hope and possibility far greater than we can imagine. Our prayer will crescendo into praise “For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory Forever and Ever,” Amen, Amen, Amen.