The “Our Father” is a prayer that is said so many times; however, do we really spend the time slowly saying the prayer to really understand all of the words? Many saints have mentioned that this prayer is so readily said out of repetition that we fail to take in all of what came from the holy lips and mouth of our Savior. The great mystic saint of the sixteenth century, St. Theresa of Avila, mentions in one of her books entitled, “The Way of Perfection,” as she mentions that at the first two words of the prayer, we should stop and be silent knowing who we are addressing and how will we further speak with God. Nothing more needs to be said after these two words for several minutes. Something to try when we are praying at home to really focus ourselves whom we are speaking with, the holy and living God!
In the first reading of today’s Mass (Genesis 18:20-32), Abraham is constantly praying to God asking for His mercy in regarding to the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah. If there are ten innocent people, God states that “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.” It will be nice if the story just ended like we heard in Sunday’s Mass, but read on further in the bible, and we all know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and how it was destroyed because no one was found to change their hearts and listen to do God’s will. It was all about “their will to be done” and not “God’s will to be done”! Abraham is addressing the one and only holy God. Jesus, the Son of God, is teaching us and allowing us to call upon His Father as our Father to help us in our spiritual journey. When we pray the “Our Father”, we are talking with God like Abraham has talked with God. What does this mean in a deeper spiritual context?
St. Cyril of Alexandria states that by instructing His apostles to address God as Father, Jesus places them by participation in prayer into the same relationship with God the Father as Jesus has; which is a privilege and responsibility. As Jesus calls out to the Father from the cross, this is the same Father we address. Just these two words, “Our Father,” should instill in our hearts, as St. Theresa of Avila describes, a profound impact in our soul knowing that we are calling the Father to hear us in Heaven. How awesome is this relationship that we converse with the living and holy God? Therefore, Jesus instructs his apostles to treat God’s name as holy by calling on God as Father so that His name may be kept holy among us, trusting that God will respond graciously for the sake of His Son. Then, why is it that so many people today use the Lord’s name in vain when they swear or use His name out of context from prayer and say “Oh my G…..” Why and how long will these sinful habits continue in our culture? Have we lost the fear of the Lord in our society because many are in this habit, and yet when God says in the second commandment that we should not take the Lord’s name in vain, it does not even bother or phase people that God is saddened. This is why the saints mention we are praying the “Our Father” with memorized lip service and not really deep from within our heart and soul. Remember, we are petitioning the Father!
God wants to change us from the inside out, and that means He changes our prayer from the ordinary to the extraordinary by changing how we pray. What does He ask of us? That we pray with confidence in Him (confidence is another name for faith. In fact, it comes from the Latin com-fidere, “to trust, have faith”).
In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us a primer on the power of praying with confidence. He tells us “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find.” Jesus continues, “Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Then, He gives us some of the most powerful and encouraging lines in the Gospel:
“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” In other words, God wants to answer our prayers, if we’re praying as His sons and daughters. This means that we pray with unlimited faith, praying that His will be done and not our will be done. For example, God do this for me, God heal this for me, God this and God that. Do we really think that God really doesn’t know our troubles if we do not mention them to Him? Let us remember, God is omniscient; meaning, He is all-knowing! I think we forget this in our spiritual life and need to be reminded again by Jesus that God is always in control of everything. So, what now?
Sometimes, God doesn’t give us the answer that we want. That’s when we find out our level of spiritual maturity. More mature Christians know that God hears and answers every prayer, but that answer can come in three different forms, as St Augustine taught us long ago. If we ask God for something in prayer, God can say one of three things in response, St Augustine said. First, he can say “Alright”, and give us what we ask for. Second, God can simply say “No”, which means that what we are asking for is not good for us, not part of God’s plan for us. This too is an answer to prayer, and, as every parent knows, sometimes it’s the most loving answer of all. Third, He can say, “Not now.” “Yes, no, and not now”, these are the three answers that God has to choose from in responding to our petitions, and God always chooses one of them. Keeping this in mind will help us, in the future, to overcome the temptation to throw spiritual tantrums when God does not give what we want. Remember the “Our Father” prayer when we say “Thy will be done” and not “Our will be done.” Big difference here if we want to grow closer with God and hear His voice. Therefore, let us put some more healthy and spiritual balance back into our lives. Whenever we turn to God in prayer, we must always be aware to put our hearts and souls, with our minds, together because we are in contact and speaking with the very source of life, beauty and truth; God Himself! Just as we restart/reboot our computers and smartphones to refresh all the hardware and software that makes our technical gadgets run smoothly, prayer is a way of rebooting our body and soul with God where He allows us to run smoothly to the order of His creation and plans for us. Starting today, if we have not been doing so, let us renew our prayerful commitment by spending additional time every day to be alone with God, know who we are addressing, and allowing God to reboot our souls so that our lives may run more smoothly, the way God designed them to run by always recalling to ourselves, “Thy will be done” as Jesus states in the “Our Father” and in Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night.
St Louis de Montfort, pray for us! Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Have a great week and enjoy life!