Many of us, or I would say almost all of us, have at least once complained about God’s apparent silence to our prayers. Time and again we share our frustration and at some point our disappointment at and with God that our prayers are not being answered. Sometimes, we even think that God is either mad at us or that He is bored with or bothered by our prayers. While we have been praying the Lord’s Prayer for ever, it takes another look and approach to discover the answer to our daily discouragement: if we do not get what we ask for, says the Lord, it is because we do not know how to pray. So He teaches us today how to pray.
From today’s readings, we are taught that God always listens to the prayer of His children when they pray with humility and faith. In the first reading, Abraham’s intercessory prayer is a demonstration of the extent of God’s patience and love for his children. God always has mercy on his children when they come back to him with contrite hearts. At the same token, we are given the assurance that whenever we pray on behalf of others, God listens to us. “Let not my Lord grow angry if I speak,” says Abraham. In today’s world, we are all called to address to God the prayer of Abraham while working diligently on the call for repentance.
In the gospel reading Jesus adds another dimension of our relationship with God. He asks to talk to God no longer as a “Master,” but as a “Father.” Actually, the word “Abba” has a more intimate meaning than the one we are using. It can be properly translated by “Dad” or “Daddy.” So, imagine that you are talking to your Dad. What kind a language do you imagine using? A more familiar and simpler; because you experience trust and confidence that you are talking to someone who knows you well and whom you know will never turn you down. But in that conversation, Jesus gives us the structure: first of all the acknowledgement of the Father as the one in charge and who provides everything. This first step is very determining because it highlights the spirit of humility and trust that should characterize our relationship with God. We pray that his name be sanctified; his kingdom come, and his will be done. With this last one, we can see the echo of the prayer Jesus make at Gethsemane when he prays to His Father saying, “not my will but yours be done.” Then, come all the requests related to our need. This is because the Father knows what we need even before we say it. So there is no need for us to put our needs in the first line of our prayers. By following the structure Jesus gives us, we acknowledge first our adoption and then our dependency upon God who knows each one of us personally with our struggles and anxieties as well as our hopes and joys.
As we talk to God as to our Father, let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.