A Template for Prayer
Gospel Reflection for February 28, 2023—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 men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
Prayer is a crucial part of the spiritual life. It’s a way of communing and communicating with our heavenly Father, of drawing closer to Christ. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, true prayer derives from the soul and permeates the heart—building faith, hope and love within the supplicant.
Yet at the same time, we often don’t know how to pray as we ought (Rom. 8:26). Sometimes we drift off into a long monologue that is more internal conversation than communion with God; we “heap up empty phrases” without truly surrendering the depths of our souls to the Lord. At other times, our prayers may turn into a series of mere petitions (“God, please give me this, help me achieve that, keep my family safe, give me a good day …) We forget the praise aspect of prayer, or the awe that comes from speaking with our Divine Creator.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus gives us a remedy for our folly. In His mercy and graciousness, He has given us not only the most beautiful prayer of our faith, but a template for our personal prayers.
First we must acknowledge to whom we’re speaking, and the wonder that comes with addressing the Almighty. Not only are we to speak directly to God through prayer, but we’re to recognize His grace and power. Before all else—before asking for forgiveness, even—we first need to place ourselves in a position of awe and reverence.
With utmost trust in His mercy, we also need to surrender ourselves completely into His hands, no matter what His will may be.
Our Father … thy kingdom come, thy will be done …
Before we can even think about beseeching God for blessing during petitionary prayer, we must first be willing to surrender wholly to Divine Will. Yes, we should ask for what we want, or feel we need. However, we also must be willing to accept our Lord’s answer, which is always for our greater good—especially during those times when His will deviates from our own wishes, hopes and projections.
In Matthew 5:24, Jesus warns us that before we can be worthy to worship Him, we must “first be reconciled to your brother.” This is also reflected in the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus instructs us not to implore forgiveness until we ourselves have forgiven. If we don’t forgive, if we fail to cleanse ourselves of the rot of resentment, we’re leaving the door open for evil to enter.
The Our Father isn’t merely a bunch of words to recite during Mass or while praying the Rosary, but is a template for all other prayers. When we acknowledge God’s majesty, turn to Him in a spirit of contrition and humility, acknowledge where we need to forgive others and plead for forgiveness from our own transgressions, we close the gates to evil and open wide the door to receive God’s divine graces and blessings.
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Asking for prayers in my family’s life, Protestant, but believe we are of the same church family of Jesus Christ. Asking for protection over my kids, that they know the Lord Jesus Christ and receive his Holy Spirit in themselves to have that inner peace of forgiveness, know the truth and be protected from any demonic attacks. Asking for forgiveness on where I have failed God and that my sins are not bared responsible by my kids.
Amen and thank you! Reading your reflection it occurred to me for the first time in my life that the Our Father is the perfect prayer for Lent! I know the Our Father is a perfect prayer upon which all prayers should be modeled, but it is especially perfect for Lent!