“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“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. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
In today’s familiar Gospel, Jesus instructs us on how to pray. God knows what we need before we ask, so we are encouraged not to babble or drone on when we pray. Instead of using our heads and brains to present many words and thoughts—or a list of needs and wants—to God, we are invited to allow our heart and soul to BE in the presence of God. We are asked to pray from and allow God into the depths of our being.
In the Our Father, Jesus gives us a way to BE in God’s presence. We should begin our prayer by focusing our attention on God (“hallowed be thy name”). Next we should allow our desires to be focused on God’s Kingdom rather than on our own concerns (“thy will be done”). Then we should ask for what we need to help us work for God’s Kingdom (“give us this day”). Remembering that all people—even ourselves—make mistakes and hurt others, we ask God to forgive us and to help us forgive others (“forgive us our trespasses and forgive those who trespass against us”). Finally, we ask for God’s blessing and protection throughout the day (“deliver us from evil”).
This way of praying—of being in God’s presence—will help us to focus our attention on what is really important: attuning our hearts and minds to God. When our hearts and minds are properly focused, we can spend our time and efforts working on bringing God’s Kingdom to fruition.
How can I better attune my heart and mind to God today?
—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.
Lord, when we pray, heighten our trust that you are present to us. Still our minds and calm our hearts so we can patiently listen to you. Thank you for this gift of prayer that will move us to a deepened relationship with you.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team