Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
About 6 months ago I had my first daughter. Gianna Marie is at the stage where she babbles and makes all sorts of noises. Obviously she cannot directly tell me what she wants or needs, but in a roundabout way, as her parent, I try to figure it out. I was thinking about that in regards to today’s gospel where we read about how Jesus tells us to not babble in prayer as the pagans do. That seems easy enough. But how often in our lives do we choose to overcomplicate things? Do we choose to try and make things better or worse than they really are, almost as if we are convincing ourselves of something that we know deep down isn’t even true? Or do we overthink and over-worry about HOW we are or THAT we pray or what God sees when we do? All of the above are struggles I have experienced within my own prayer life.
Jesus tries to simplify it for us. We should pray. We should talk to God. Our prayer should be rooted in speaking to God as our friend, in a very personal and intimate relationship. Our prayer should not be over thought out, or drawn out for attention, or containing every perfect word in existence. Our prayer should not be overly complicated. Our prayer should reflect the one that is demonstrated in today’s gospel. And so, if we were to ask Jesus about HOW to pray, he seems to be the guy who would instruct guide us to the way of the most simple prayer we can utter in terms of what we want to talk to God about: the Our Father.
While it’s a prayer we all know by heart and at too many times can find ourselves forgetting the true meaning by going through the motions of the words, when broken down, it can mean so much to us personally and in our relationship with our God. I found this the other day when cleaning my office; didn’t even know I had this! God’s sense of humor is awesome.
I cannot pray/OUR, if my faith has no room for others and their need.
I cannot pray/ FATHER; if I do not demonstrate this relationship with my God daily.
I cannot pray/ WHO ART IN HEAVEN, if all of my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.
I cannot pray/ HALLOWED BE THY NAME, if I am not striving with God’s help, to be holy.
I cannot pray/ THY KINGDOM COME, if I am unwilling to accept God’s love in my life.
I cannot pray/ THY WILL BE DONE, if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot pray/ ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, unless I am ready to give my life, my service, and my struggles to God.
I cannot pray/ GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, without seeking out God’s real presence in the Eucharist for my life and my body.
I cannot pray/ FORGIVE US OUR TRESSPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESSPASS AGAINST US, if I continue to hold grudges.
I cannot pray/ LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I will be tempted.
I cannot pray/ DELIVER US FROM EVIL, if I am not prepared to fight evil with my life and my prayer.
I cannot pray/ AMEN, unless I can honestly say, “cost what it may, this is my prayer”.
This reflection gave me some perspective on what it means to pray to God. God doesn’t ask me to be perfect, but does call me to think about my life. This easy and simple and sometimes overused prayer can be such a great reminder of God’s love for us as His children. And just as Gianna babbles to me with her simple noise to get my attention, I hear her and it truly is enough. And as a loving parent, God feels the same way. Calling out, crying out, simply asking and simply being with our God is enough of a prayer. I know that I am called to simply take the Our Father and to break it down slowly, methodically, and meaningfully, all the while turning over my will and knowing that it will be provided for in God’s time. God doesn’t need much more than just a simple word to know that I need Him and there He is. During this Lenten season, I pray for the challenge to grow closer to God through a deeper understanding that my prayer life doesn’t have to be perfect or look so good, but it does have to be a work in progress. And this reflection helps in that journey.
Katie Lucchesi Gray (’08) is the Youth Minister at Saint Catherine Laboure Parish in Sappington, MO.