Readings: Isa 55:10-11; Matt 6:7-15
Scripture: Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt 6:8b)
Reflection: Today’s lesson on prayer can seem contradictory. Jesus tells us not to imagine we’ll get anywhere in prayer with a lot of words, that God knows what we need before we ask. And then Jesus proceeds to teach us to pray with specific words and to ask for things. So, which is it? Words or no words? Do we bring our needs to the Father or just wait for God to give us what we need? It’s both/and, I think. We are human, and so it’s only natural that we go to God with words and pleas, but, at the same time, we are called to listen, to wait, to trust. It’s not easy. Speaking for myself, I try a little too hard to control things, even in prayer, presenting God with a laundry list of items that need tending.
St. John of the Cross said, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” Again, we sense the contradiction that is our prayer life. Pray without speaking, receive without asking, walk without seeing. The words Jesus taught us echo that theme. We pray “thy will be done,” which is like walking with our eyes closed. We ask for “our daily bread,” not bread for a lifetime, not even bread for the week, just enough for today. The one constant here is trust. Do we trust what God has in store for us, even without asking?
Meditation: What does your usual prayer life look like when you break it down? What is your word-to-silence ratio? Can you increase the latter and listen for God in the silence, trusting that, even without speaking a word, God knows your heart? Today, take the words that Jesus taught us, the Our Father, and speak them aloud at the start of your daily prayer session. Focus on each line with intensity. When you are finished, sit in silence for at least five solid minutes to let those words resonate and to listen for the rustle of the Spirit within your soul.
Prayer: Spirit of Love, speak to me in the silence of my days and breathe God’s grace into those places in my life where I hold on too tight, where I refuse to trust. Give me the patience and wisdom to let God be God.
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