Thursday, August 2, 2012

The prayer our Savior taught us

Every Sunday at our Eucharistic gathering we pray together the prayer our Savior taught us: The Lord’s Prayer, found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Jesus said to his disciples: “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Mt 6:9-13)

We pray believing that God hears and answers our prayers. We pray not so much to ask for what we need or want – God already knows that and is answering our prayers before we ask. We pray in order to bring ourselves into the presence of God whose Spirit fills us and leads us to wholeness again and again – as often as we go there.

When we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we know that this is already happening. That can be both comforting and frightful when we think about it. If God’s Spirit is in us, then what happens to us happens to God who is in us. Therefore, when we see the face of a suffering child of God, we see the face of God. When we give comfort to one of the least in the kingdom (or when we don’t), we give comfort to God (or we don’t).

When we pray for God’s will to be done, it’s because the only other option is our will – and even in our least humble moments, we know our will isn’t sufficient. We know our best gifts and greatest compassion and most self-sacrificing love can’t bring about reconciliation of the world to God. Only God can do that – and God chooses to continue that work through us. So when we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking God to change us. By our free will, we can choose to step out of God’s will. Sometimes we look up and find that we have stepped out of the path of God without realizing it. Mindlessness and habit can lead us to that. Prayer is our way of consenting to be brought back into cooperation with the divine will.

When we pray, Jesus reminds us to do so trusting in the steadfast love, mercy, and compassion of God who provides what we need – our daily bread - as we need it. When we truly believe that, then we become sources of that abundance to others. We are unafraid to “give it away” because we know there will always be more, there will always be enough.

Jesus also teaches us to remember to seek to be forgiving, just as God is forgiving. We are all children of God and we’re all bound together in that identity. The question is, what binds us – sin or love? If it is sin, we get stuck, held back from our true purpose or we hold others back from their true purpose. If it is love, we live in freedom and all things really are possible by the power of God working in us.

When we pray, we remember the truth of eternal life given to us as a gift (grace) from God, and we are able to live our lives in the eternal presence of God. Right here. Right now. From that prayerful perspective we can see clearly that the things of the world are tempting, but temporary, and we are no longer deceived by what they seem to promise.

We return our gaze to God who is the source of life, truth, compassion, and fullness of joy. This is the reign of God. This is the glory of God. Now and forever. Amen.

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