“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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”- Matthew 6:7-15 NRSV
Praying Is Something We Must Do
The Gospel reading above has many familiar items in it. Jesus gives instruction on prayer, gives us the Lord’s prayer, and gives us some hard words on forgiveness. During various times of the year, many of us are taking up prayer as an offering of sacrifice. This is a great thing as prayer is essential to our relationship with God. When we say these prayers are we saying it with all our hearts or are we saying it just to say we said it? In the time of Christ the pagans would say numerous words that were no heartfelt because they thought their god would hear them based on who said more. This is not the case with our Lord. He knows our hearts, minds, and wants a relationship with us. Praying is not something we do just to check it off the list. It is something we need to take our time with. If it is the rosary then meditate on the mysteries and don’t speed through it. When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours pray it reverently and not try to set records on how fast we can complete it (I’m guilty of this one).
Prayer is also not a one way conversation. Take time to listen as well. Take this time during to get in the habit of these things so it carries on to the rest of the year.
We Need To Forgive
The last two verses of today’s Gospel reading are very challenging. Jesus says that unless we forgive then we will not be forgiven. This is hard. I will be the first to say that. However, we have been forgiven much and need to extend the mercy given to us to others. In that way we play a role in the Lord’s kingdom coming to earth. When we die we no longer have the chance to forgive.
If there is something you are struggling with forgiving then I urge you to take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask for the Lord to work on your heart so you can get to the place to forgive. Forgiveness and mercy is what this world needs.
It is what we need.
Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.-St. John Chrysostom
Without prayer we have neither light nor strength to advance in the way which leads to God.-St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
Many cry to God, but not with the voice of the soul, but with the voice of the body; only the cry of the heart, of the soul, reaches God.-St. Augustine
If a man finds it very hard to forgive injuries, let him look at a Crucifix, and think that Christ shed all His Blood for him, and not only forgave His enemies, but even prayed His Heavenly Father to forgive them also. Let him remember that when he says the Pater Noster, every day, instead of asking pardon for his sins, he is calling down vengeance on himself.”-St. Philip Neri
He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God. As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.-St. Faustina