This Is personal

– Tuesday Week 1 of Lent –

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then in this way: Our Father… ”  [Matthew 6:7-9]

This is probably the best-known passage of the Gospel. It is so familiar to us that it can be difficult to be present to the words to allow them to address us anew. It is also difficult to realise what a radical stance in prayer this passage communicated to its hearers.

In Jesus’ cultural and religious context, whenever God was spoken of as ‘father”, they were addressing him as the father of his people. By contrast, Jesus’ prayer shows a level of intimacy between Jesus and God that was unheard of. In fact, his teaching was considered to be blasphemous.

By adoption, we are invited into a family relationship with those who do “the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). This is the relationship into which we are born through our baptism – “through faith in Christ, a gift from God that must be nourished and cultivated throughout our life” (Pope Francis, General Audience, June 12, 2013).

Jesus’ prayer encourages us to be aware of what need is in our hearts and to speak to God about it. Sometimes, this is just an honest cry that says I believe and trust that God is there for me, and if for me, then for all of us who cry out to Him. My prayer needs to open me to the people I hurt, and by whom I am hurt.

So, in this very familiar prayer, debts, evil and hurts are all brought before God, whom I place at the centre of my awareness, to whom I feel drawn, and by whom I am nourished and forgiven.


by Janiene Wilson

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