When Prayers Make Sense

When Prayers Make Sense

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“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

At the time of Jesus, people had a particular way of praying, much similar to that of many today. They loved to heap up a lot of empty phrases because they imagined God to be very far away. Jesus basically teaches us that there is just no need for this because God is so close to us that He even knows what we had in mind even before we open our mouths to pray.

In other words, there is no need to shout, no need to repeat oneself over and over again, no need to use meaningless words which some people wrongly refer to as speaking in tongues.

The first thing we must do before we start praying is to place ourselves in the presence of God and realize that all our prayers are directed at God not at those listening to us. Even if we are using a microphone, we are not praying to people, we are praying to God. Yes, we may be praying for people, but it is still God we are talking to.

We may bless the people, but we must be careful not to assume a position of authority over God whereby we begin to give God commands as we would to our domestic staff. We are free to make prophetic declarations when we hear from God, but we must be careful not to tell lies in God’s name or say things just to excite the people. Even the prophets in the Bible did not always say things that were pleasing to the people’s ears, they spoke the truth which they heard from God.

Jesus taught us a very simple prayer in our Gospel passage today. The “Our Father” is a prayer that makes sense. It does not involve repeated/empty phrases, it gives God His due praise and glory, it begs from God, it does not issue commands, it is a prayer of commitment in that it does not only asks from God, it also tells God what we shall give to Him. When we pray it, we ask for our daily bread, we also promise to forgive those who sin against us. This is just how we are to pray.

Do not be too focused on taking from God when you pray that you forget that you are also supposed to give back to God. Prayer is a Dialogue, not a Monologue.

Fr. Abu.