17th Sunday C – When We Pray
Historians tell us that religion, the worship of God, may have originated within the ancient family where the young found assurance and security in parents and kin. Over time, the surety offered by family and elders to their young came to be seen as coming from God. Isaiah portrays God’s people – us – to a nursing child in the protection and love of its mother’s arms – arms that represent God’s loving embrace. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? 49:15 and cf. 66:13. I like to keep this image before me especially when I pray.
Lord, teach us to pray. After his disciples observed him praying they wanted a share in what they noticed about Jesus’ relationship with God. He welcomed them into his experience of his Father and taught them to pray as individuals and as the family of God. The atmosphere and context of speaking to God as Father is one of ancient family trust. It is foundational in prayer to know we are loved with a parent’s love. We ask because we know we won’t be refused; we search, trusting we will eventually find; we knock at our parents’ door knowing it will be opened by someone who loves us and cares for us.
Kieran O’Mahoney notes that the Our Father, rather than being a set of words to be recited, is a way or style of praying or speaking to a tender parent who cares deeply for his family. Prayer is not an exercise in getting the exact words or a prescribed formula. Jesus was critical of those who babbled words by rote – Matt 6: 7. “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart,” said John Bunyan. Prayer, wrote Donal Dorr, is letting the awareness of God’s love become ever more alive in our hearts.
Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. It takes courage to pray for the forgiveness we grant others. Loving a friend is easy, loving my enemy is the measure. It’s hard to nurse a grudge inside us and at the same time pray for peace somewhere else. We need to clean up our own act first. “Most of us have to get in touch with ourselves first before we can turn to our relationship with God,” writes Dom John Main. There are many other aspects to prayer that will be commented on in future blogs.
Fr. QQ – 07/20/2022