Wednesday, October 5, 2011

teach me how to pray



The Gospel reading for Holy Communion today has St Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer. While St Matthew's might be the better known, there is a simplicity to Luke's that I find very appealing. The beginning is more personal - instead of 'Our Father' it begins just with 'Father,' which I find suggestive of far greater intimacy. What follows is what might be called the 'stripped down' essentials of prayer:

1. a recognition of the Holiness of God;
2. a desire that his will be done in the world;
3. a request for the necessities of life for all;
4. an appeal for forgiveness for our wrongdoings;
5. an appeal for the strength to forgive others when they wrong us;
6. & a humble request to keep us strong in our faith.

Nothing elaborate; no frills; just the basics. Think about how your own prayer life might be improved by keeping these principles in mind. For example, when you're tempted to pray for worldly success, pray instead that God's will be done. Or when you're tempted to pray for wealth, instead pray that all people will have enough to eat. And when you're angry, pray for the strength to forgive.

But most especially, I like what prompted Jesus to give his disciples this teaching. They said to him 'Lord, teach us how to pray.' Perhaps it would profit us every time we pray to take some time with that simple request ... and instead of beginning by launching in with a litany of our own concerns and requests, simply say: Lord, teach me how to pray.

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