In response to his disciples’ request to teach them to pray, Jesus gives them a model of prayer which, because it comes from the Lord himself, has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. The Gospel of Luke presents a more streamlined version than the longer and more familiar version given in Matthew’s Gospel. Nevertheless their content is the same. We begin by praising God, whom we acknowledge as Father, and opening ourselves up to his will. Only then do we ask him to sustain our lives, to help us stay in right relationship with others and to keep us from sin. What more do we need?
God does not need our prayers, but we need to pray. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) Rather than telling God what he doesn’t already know, prayer reminds us of our dependence upon him. That is why even the Lord’s Prayer begins with praise of God before asking for his help. Nevertheless Jesus invites us to be bold in praying: “[A]sk and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In John’s Gospel he says, “[W]hatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (John 16:23b)
Praying with the Church is also important. It reminds us that our relationship to God as Father implies a relationship to one another as brothers and sisters. Participation in the Sunday Mass is important for this reason. We need to be part of the Church to receive the eucharist and the other sacraments, and to exercise our baptismal priesthood in offering the eucharistic sacrifice. It is here, too, that we hear God’s word proclaimed. The liturgy of the Mass contains every type of prayer and should be the cornerstone of our spiritual life.
Last Sunday the Lord provided us with a beautiful day for St. Peter’s Shin-Dig. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make it happen; to all who came to enjoy the fruit of their labor; and to the businesses and individuals who donated food, prizes and other items.
While enjoying the Shin-Dig I was unaware that another act of violence had erupted that morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the shooting of several police officers. Violence only begets more violence and I fear what heightened tensions may bring about. Pray for citizens and law enforcement alike, that cooler heads may prevail.
This past week I traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to celebrate the funeral of my cousin’s husband, who died at age 86. I visited there 22 years ago and regret that this was the occasion for my second visit, but I was grateful that I was able to go. We all know the importance of family support at times of loss and it was good for all of us who were able to be together.
May God bless his people with peace.