Listening to Our Father

Matthew 6:7-15

There’s a You Tube video that has gone viral – over 18 million views of it within a couple of days.  It is of a speech made by a young heart throb actor named Chris Pratt on an MTV award show. When receiving his award, he used his time at the podium to urge those watching (of the younger generation) to believe in God. He said, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that” he said, “I do.” How refreshing it was to see that, on an award show, and on MTV no less!


Continuing on, one of his main lines was (and it relates to today’s Gospel), “Learn to pray. It’s easy, and good for your soul.”


In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus contrasts babble-prayer with holy prayer, and wordy prayer with a heart-felt "Our Father”.  


If someone not familiar with the Rosary, for example, walked in here and witnessed it being recited before Mass, they may think that it is a babble-prayer, simply because it's a repetitious, formula prayer.  And it is.  But it's babble only for those who don't immerse themselves in it and use it for meditation within an intimate, loving communication with God, a two way communication.


When we think about the Our Father, as central as it is to our faith and as much as we enjoy coming together to say it, God takes even greater joy in answering it.  It's easy, given all the reverence for the Lord's Prayer (especially since it is recommended by Jesus), to lose sight of the fact that it’s meant to be just the beginning of the conversation.  No prayer is supposed to be a one way conversation.  The purpose of the prayer is to have an open dialogue with our heavenly Father.


Think of the times we've entered into prayer but hadn’t really given God his chance to respond! (I know I'm guilty of it) Can we imagine for a moment what our prayer experience might be like, if when we prayed (not just the Our Father but other prayers where we started the conversation), if we allowed for some real meditative time afterwards, fixing our minds on our Father, in our inner room (as was described yesterday), and quietly inviting Him to respond.


Christian writer, Matthew Kelly, calls this quiet time, “the classroom of silence” because by engaging in it, it allows us to focus solely on what God is trying to convey to us, to learn from him, and be moved by him.  We grow personally and spiritually, and become formed in Christ.


I read a reflection once that suggested a response from God that he may give us, given that we opened our prayer time with the Lord’s Prayer. 


It might go something like this: "My child, every time you turn to me and say, Father, my heart is warmed with love, and I answer by calling you my son, my daughter.  Sometimes you don't think you are worthy of that title, but I do.  Remember, I have chosen to give you an inheritance in my kingdom.  I treasure you so much that I sent my Son, Jesus, to bring you home to me."  It goes on....


"My child, will you work alongside me and build my kingdom today? Will you stretch out your hands to tell your neighbors (and show them) that I am their Father?  I promise to give you everything you need - all your daily bread - as you take up this calling.  I promise to set you apart for my work by washing away your sins and protecting you from the evil one.  I will always be with you, my child, not just today but every day." 


It concludes with, "Come, follow me.  Let's go out into the world together and bring my love to all your brothers and sisters." 


What we just heard, sounds a lot like a love letter.  But as we think about it, why wouldn't it be?  It sounds peaceful, as we should be peaceful.  It sounds loving, as we should be loving.  And it sounds inviting, as we should be inviting, inviting those around us to share in the peace and the love that God intends to share with all his children.


So, how about if we pray today that our prayer life will move from primarily outbound babble to two-way dialogue, both giving and receiving.  Let's thank God for all the responses that he has given us, some that we heard, and some that we didn't take the time to listen to.


And let us take with us the confidence of knowing that his every response to us is as a loving Father, who, as actor Chris Pratt reminds us in his speech, wants the very best for his children, and will respond to our every prayer with a response that is just what we need!


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