Homily – July 28, 2013

Teach us to pray as John teaches his disciples. Prayer was always important in the life of Jesus. We read in the gospels how he would take the apostles away to the mountain to be in a place of solitude and spend time in the presence of his Father.

In today’s gospel we hear the disciple’s request, ‘teach us to pray’ Most of us would say we are not good prayers. We try to settle down and be with God but then our minds are crowded with thoughts of all the things we’ve got to do and so we want to be on our way and get things done. It is hard to be still in the presence of God and let the world spin without us.

Jesus offers us a lesson in how to pray, a lesson we’ve turned into a prayer. We are taught to acknowledge the holiness of God and then request something called “daily bread”. Then we are to ask for our being forgiven with the same generosity we show forgiving others. Finally we ask for freedom from the temptations that try to lure us away from the will and way of the Father.

Prayer is often described as lifting one’s mind and heart to God. God who is loving mother/father, who will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. We often forget that God is always present to us though we are too busy, have too many things on our minds to be present to God.  Jesus uses the example of the generous love of a mother or father who gives good things to their children.

In the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us not to babble or rattle on like the pagans do for they think that by using many words they will be heard. Your father knows what you need before you ask him. We know what we want but the Father knows what we need – there is a difference.

We need to be more trusting in God’s love for each of us, more trusting in the truth that God so loved us that he sent his son to us, not to condemn us but show us the love and mercy of the Father.

We need to open our hearts and lives to the teaching of Jesus so that the kingdom of God may come to that part of our lives which has yet to be redeemed. We need an open heart that is willing to say, ’not my will but your will be done.’

We need the daily bread of respect and acceptance of all those people who come into our lives each day. We need the daily bread of sensitivity to, and awareness of, the needs of the homeless, the under employed, the sick and the lonely.

We need the daily bread of appreciation of the good things with which we have been blessed and have an attitude of gratitude. We need the daily bread of awareness of our wasteful lifestyles. We need the daily bread of a willingness to live simply that others may simply live.

We need a forgiving heart that is willing to let go of past hurts and wrongs and work for peace in all our relationships.

We need a faithful heart that helps us face and overcome the temptations that are part of all our lives.

These are the things our heavenly father knows we need even before we ask for what we want. We’ve all had the experience of asking, seeking and knocking and nothing happens. It’s hard to accept the fact that ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ are good words at times. As parents how often have you’ve known that no is the best response to an important or urgent request from a son or daughter. As a parent you know that this is not the right time, this is not the right thing to do. As loving parents you know how to give good things to your children as God gives good things to us.

As we continue to celebrate this Eucharist, the most important prayer of the church we pray for ourselves and for each that we follow the encouraging words of St. Paul, ‘ pray always and never loose heart.