“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.
Does prayer sometimes seem intimidating? The feeling that we don’t know what to say or do can cause a lot of anxiety.
Prayer, however, is not as complicated as it may seem. For example, St. Ignatius’ most important prayer happened while daydreaming in bed. Only later did he realize that his daydreams were filled with God’s grace. If Ignatius can accidentally pray, then it must be easier to do than we think.
This is, of course, part of Jesus’ point. We do not need to have complex formulas, lots of time, or the right words. Be simple and direct. Say thanks, ask for what you need, and remember that God has your back. This is exactly what the Our Father is: an example of simple, direct prayer.
Do not fear getting it right or following a set of rules. Just turn to God, speak as you would to a friend, and remember that God does indeed have your back.
Do I ever avoid prayer because I do not know what to do or say?
Do I skip prayer because I feel don’t have enough time?
Try to remember that God is thrilled even when we just say, “hi.”
—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a Jesuit deacon of the Central and Southern Province currently finishing his Master’s degree in Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He will be ordained to the priesthood in June.
Lord, bowing before your Most Sacred Heart,
I beg you, in your compassion and generosity,
help me to always turn to you in prayer.
Help me to realize that you always desire my attention,
and that you hold even the smallest of my prayers as precious to you.
Let me not fear turning to you in my times of need,
inspire me to run to you in my times of joy,
and invite me to speak with you during all the times in between.
May I always love you, trust you, and know that you hear me.
—Stephen Kramer, SJ