A Template for Prayer: Matthew 6:7-15
Prayer is the primary aspect of our spiritual lives. It’s a way of communing and communicating with our heavenly Father, of drawing closer to Christ. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, true prayer derives from the soul and permeates the heart—building faith, hope and love within the supplicant.
Yet at the same time, we often don’t know how to pray as we ought (Rom. 8:26). Sometimes we drift off into a long monologue that is more internal conversation than communion with God; we “heap up empty phrases” without truly surrendering the depths of our souls to God. At other times, our prayers may turn into a series of mere petitions (“God, please give me this, help me achieve that, keep my family safe, give me a good day …”) We forget the praise aspect of prayer, or the awe that comes from speaking with our Divine Creator.
Yet Jesus gives us a remedy for our confusion. In His mercy and graciousness, He has blessed with us not only the most beautiful prayer of our faith, but a template for our all personal prayers (Matt. 6:7-15).
And when you pray, 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. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
First we must acknowledge to whom we’re speaking, and the wonder that comes with addressing the Almighty. Not only are we to communicate directly to God through prayer, but we’re to recognize His grace and power. Before all else—before asking for forgiveness, even—we first need to place ourselves in a position of awe and reverence.
With utmost trust in His mercy, we also need to surrender ourselves completely into His hands, no matter what His will may be.
Our Father … they kingdom come, thy will be done …
Before we can even think about beseeching God for blessing during petitionary prayer, we must be willing to surrender wholly to Divine Will. Yes, we should ask for what we want, or what we feel we may need. However, we also must be willing to accept our Lord’s answer, which is always for our greater good—especially during those times when His will deviates from our own.
In Matthew 5:24, Jesus warns us that before we can be worthy to worship Him, we must “first be reconciled to your brother.” This is also reflected in the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus instructs us not to implore forgiveness until we ourselves have forgiven. If we don’t forgive, if we fail to cleanse ourselves of the rot of resentment, we’re leaving the door open for evil to enter.
The Our Father isn’t merely a bunch of words to recite during Mass or while praying the Rosary, but is a template for all other prayers. When we acknowledge God’s majesty, turn to Him in a spirit of contrition and humility, acknowledge where we need to forgive others and plead for forgiveness from our own transgressions, we close the gates to evil and open wide the door to receive God’s divine graces and blessings.
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